This indicator measures how much money the nonprofit arts inject into their local economies for every person. The main impact is not economic, but it is a measure of how many arts dollars are spent on behalf of every resident. Separately, Americans for the Arts conducts extensive studies of the economic impact of the arts through the Arts and Economic Prosperity studies. Form 990 filers make up less than half of all registered nonprofits but they constitute all nonprofit arts organizations with gross revenues over $25,000.

Not all of the money spent by nonprofit arts organizations is on programming activities that directly affect a community. Nonetheless, it is through how they spend their money on all areas – program, administrative, development, marketing, and otherwise – that we can identify them as arts organizations. Other nonprofits also raise donations and use volunteers. But arts organizations are identified as such because their purposes are in the arts arena, the area in which they spend money. That spending can be either direct, such as in artists’ fees, or for support activities, as in the accountant’s salary in a nonprofit theatre, which is still being paid to produce the arts. So we think of all of these arts expenditures in a county as a measure of cultural programming and output.

This indicator is data from fiscal year 2010 obtained from National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) Core Files that draw from files on IRS Form 990. This is for nonprofits in all NTEE classification codes in Major Group “A,” plus NTEECC B70, C41, D50, and N52. It is converted to a per capita measure.

Additional Information: Counties with indicator value = 2,537. Average county indicator value = $58.18. Median county indicator value = $16.93.


Fast Facts from the Arts Index

The nonprofit arts grow – despite a recession!

The number of nonprofit arts organizations has grown annually, reaching 113,000 in 2010. In the past decade, nonprofit arts organizations grew 49% (76,000 to 113,000), a greater rate than all nonprofit organizations, which grew 32% (1.2 million to 1.6 million).