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 Impact 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 2012 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 = 2,510. Average county indicator value = $59.18. Median county indicator value = $17.05.


Fast Facts from the Arts Index

Consumer arts spending steady at $150 billion!

Since 2002, consumer spending on the arts has remained in the $150 billion range, though as a share of all expenditures it has slipped from 1.88% in 2002 to 1.45% in 2010. Following four years of decreases, musical instrument sales rebounded, growing from $5.9 billion in 2009 to $6.3 billion in 2010.