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Nashville’s Nonprofit Arts and Culture Industry Generates $429.3 Million in Economic Activity and 14,277 Jobs, According to National Study

Jennifer Cole

The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $429.3 million in annual economic activity in Davidson County, supports 14,277 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $51.1 million in local and state government revenues, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 national economic impact study. The most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever undertaken in the United States, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 was conducted by Americans for the Arts, in partnership with the Tennessee Arts Commission and Metro Arts—leading national, state and local organizations working to advance the arts.

The Tennessee Arts Commission, the state’s arts agency, commissioned the statewide study, joining 19 other states and 341 communities and regions across the country. AEP5 is the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States and represents all 50 states.

“This study demonstrates that the arts are an economic and employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive and helps local communities become stronger and healthier places to live. Leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business.”

In Nashville, Metro Arts worked with more than 80 nonprofit arts partners to collect data on their economic activities at more than 920 events, exhibits, shows and festivals to document the spending patterns of local arts audiences. On average, Nashvillians who attend arts events spend an additional $38.11 on ancillary items like restaurants, transportation and parking. Non-Davidson County residents, which includes regional visitors and out-of-state tourists, spend on average $55.97—putting Nashville economic activity generated by the arts above the national average for both resident and non-resident cultural spending.

“Nashville is known globally as a music town, but it is so much more. We have emerged as a global arts powerhouse and are consistently in the top 4 arts and culture markets in the U.S. This study demonstrates the vital role our nonprofit arts organizations - museums, theatres, festivals, dance and other performance sites - contribute to the vitality and economy of our city. Making this contribution visible through data will help our cultural organizations garner larger audiences and investments so they can continue to grow, adapt and serve our changing community,” noted Jen Cole, Executive Director of Metro Arts, the city office of arts and culture.

The study documented how vital nonprofit arts institutions are to tourists. 75% of the non-resident respondents indicated their trip to Nashville was “specifically to attend an arts and culture event.” Of those, 12.9% indicated an overnight stay—suggesting the role Nashville is playing as a regional arts powerhouse in cultural tourism.

“The arts have always been part of the fabric of our community and one of the key elements of our special quality of life. This study documents in detail the role these organizations play in our economy and in job creation—priorities of my administration. One of the key reasons my administration increased the Metro Arts grants budget in FY18 is because we know that these organizations are vital to our success as a global, culturally and economically vibrant city,” said Mayor Megan Barry.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study was conducted by Americans for the Arts and supported by the organization’s The Ruth Lilly Fund. Americans for the Arts’ local, regional, and statewide project partners contributed both time and financial support to the study. Financial information from organizations was collected in partnership with DataArts™, using a new online survey interface.