Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6)

The arts bring us inspiration and joy, and make our community a beautiful place to live and work. But the arts do so much more.

We are excited to partner with Americans for the Arts to announce the launch of Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), the sixth national study of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry.

While the arts have the potential to impact many aspects of our community, the truth is they also have a power all on their own. The arts are an open invitation to engage in our history, our heritage, our politics, the way we learn—in short, the arts are part of our daily lives, and play a role in all aspects of the human experience. Economic impact studies such as these will expand the conversation about how many people view the arts. While most appreciate the cultural benefit provided to our community, few realize that our local arts industry supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is a cornerstone of tourism.

At the national level, AEP5 showed that the nonprofit arts industry generated $166.3 billion in economic activity, supporting 4.6 million jobs and generating $27.5 billion in government revenue. Locally, our arts industry generated $69.8 million in annual economic activity in the Boulder, Colorado – supporting 1,832 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $4.6 million in local and state government revenues.

Our local nonprofit arts and culture organizations have been and will continue to be critical to our economic recovery. We need your help to collect this data for AEP6. While part of a national study, our reports will be based on spending by our own local nonprofit arts and culture organizations as well as the event-related spending by their audiences (at local retail, parking, and restaurant establishments). The results of this research will be used to understand the conditions of the nonprofit arts sector, to track progress on the Community Cultural Plan, for lawmakers to best understand the importance of the arts, for nonprofit leadership to better know the outcomes of their missions, and for arts advocates to best tell the story of the importance of the arts.

Below is information on the previous study (AEP5) and the current study. We are asking local arts and culture nonprofit organizations to complete 40 exit surveys each over the course of the year, from May 2022 to April 2023. Below are dates and times that we are offering training on gathering the surveys; there will be more later in the year as well. Please confirm to clickl@bouldercolorado.gov which training your staff or volunteer would like to attend. You may also contact Lauren Click at clickl@bouldercolorado.gov or 720-564-2355 to book a private training if you prefer.

Training dates (all on Zoom, 30 minutes)

  • Wednesday, May 25 at noon or 4pm
  • Thursday, June 30 at noon or 4pm
  • Thursday, July 21 at noon or 4pm

Background

Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) is the sixth economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in the U.S. The study is conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading industry group committed to advancing the arts and arts education. It is the largest and most inclusive study of its kind ever conducted, with a specific focus on 387 participating communities from across all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. The study is conducted approximately every five years to gauge the economic impact (on employment, government revenue, and household income) of spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and the event-related spending by their audiences. Previous studies were published in 1994, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017. (Due to the unique nature of the realities of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the AEP6 study was postponed for 16 months.)

In 2017, the previous study, AEP5, documented that the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion in economic activity (spending by organizations plus the event-related spending by their audiences) which supported 4.6 million jobs and generated $27.5 billion in government revenue. The AEP series demonstrates that an investment in the arts provides both cultural and economic benefits.

  • Nonprofit arts and culture organizations are businesses. They employ people locally, purchase goods and services from within the community, are members of their Chambers of Commerce, and attract tourists to their regions.
  • The arts drive commerce to local businesses. The arts, unlike most industries, leverage significant amounts of event-related spending by their audiences. In 2017, arts attendees spent $31.47 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and lodging—vital income for local businesses.
  • Arts travelers are ideal tourists. They stay longer and spend more to seek out authentic cultural experiences. One-third of attendees travel from outside the county in which the activity takes place and spend an average of $48 per person. (69% say they traveled specifically to attend the activity.)
  • Small investments. Big returns. In 2017, the combined $5 billion in direct arts funding by local, state, and federal governments yielded $27.5 billion in government revenue.

Boulder

The Office of Arts and Culture has conducted the Boulder-specific research since 2012 with the help of our nonprofit arts and culture partners throughout the city. The most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 (AEP5), was conducted in 2015 by Americans for the Arts. Our office participated. According to that study, we learned that:

  • The nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $69.8 million in annual economic activity in Boulder, Colorado – supporting 1,832 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $4.6 million in local and state government revenues.
  • Results showed that nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Boulder spent $35.5 million during fiscal year 2015, the most recent year included in the study. This spending was far-reaching: organizations paid employees, purchased supplies, contracted for services and acquired assets within their community.
  • Those dollars, in turn, generated $47.6 million in household income for local residents, and $4.6 million in local and state government revenues.
  • In addition, during 2015, a total of 5,087 volunteers donated a total of 265,505 hours to the nonprofit arts and cultural organizations that participated in the study about Boulder. This represented a donation of time with an estimated aggregate value of $6,255,298 and showed a deep engagement with the city’s arts and culture.

Our Role

The AEP6 study is being conducted in partnership with local and state research partners representing the 387 participating communities. In 2022, our office will participate in Arts and Economic Prosperity 6. We will seek help from our nonprofit arts and culture partners throughout the city again.

For information on AEP6 visit the Americans for the Arts website.

For any questions about the City of Boulder’s participation, please contact Arts Program Manager Lauren Click at clickl@bouldercolorado.gov or 720-564-2355.