The Charlotte-Mecklenburg region’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $359 million in economic activity annually, according to Americans for the Arts

Categories: Home Featured, News & Media
Nonprofit arts industry returns $31.5 million in revenue to local and state coffers; more than 58,000 employed in for-profit and nonprofit creative industries

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 15, 2017) – The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $359 million in annual economic activity in the greater Charlotte-Mecklenburg region – supporting 11,186 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $31.5 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 conducted in the United States, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 was conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg region report was funded by the Arts & Science Council (ASC) and Charlotte Regional Partnership.

According to the study, nonprofit arts and culture organizations spent $179.1 million during fiscal year 2015 in the region, which includes Alexander, Anson, Cabarrus, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly and Union counties in North Carolina; and Chester, Chesterfield, Lancaster and York counties in South Carolina.

This spending is far-reaching: organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services and acquire assets within their community. Those dollars, in turn, generated $259.1 million in household income for local residents and $31.5 million in local and state government revenues.

“This study validates what has been ASC and the local cultural sector’s message for years – that investment in arts, science and history not only builds community and strengthens pre-K-12 education, but it leads to more jobs, more visitors, and, as a result, more government revenue,” said ASC President Robert Bush. “Our cultural sector is integral to the economic growth and vitality of our 16-county region.”

Nationwide, the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV reveals that the nonprofit arts industry produced $166.3 billion in economic activity during 2015. This spending – $63.8 billion by nonprofit arts and culture organizations plus an additional $102.5 billion by their audiences – supported 4.6 million full-time equivalent jobs and generated $27.5 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues.

“This study shines a much-needed light on the vital role the arts play in stimulating and sustaining economic development,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Contrary to popular belief, the arts are a bustling industry that supports a plethora of diverse jobs, generates significant revenues for local businesses and to federal, state and local governments and provides quality of life that positions communities to compete in our 21st century creative economy.”

Arts Industry Boon for Local Businesses

In addition to spending by organizations, the regional nonprofit arts and culture industry leverages $180.3 million in event-related spending by its audiences. As a result of attending a cultural event, attendees often eat dinner in local restaurants, pay for parking, buy gifts and souvenirs, and pay a babysitter. What’s more, attendees from out of town often stay overnight in a local hotel. In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, these dollars support 4,998 full-time equivalent jobs and generate $17,708,000 in local and state government revenues.

Nearly 58,000 people in the 16-county region are employed in for-profit and nonprofit jobs that the U.S. Department of Labor classifies as creative, such as photographers, designers, librarians and writers.

“These results send a clear and important message to business leaders who care about this region and its economic prosperity,” said Ronnie Bryant, president and CEO of Charlotte Regional Partnership. “Investing in the cultural community means supporting an industry that positively contributes to the economic health of our region, helps attract and retain top talent in a competitive job market and ensures that today’s students are prepared to be tomorrow’s workforce.”

The Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study was conducted by Americans for the Arts and supported by The Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts. Americans for the Arts’ local, regional, and statewide project partners contributed both time and financial support to the study. The full text of the national statistical report is available at

The Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 report for the 16-county greater Charlotte region is available here.

To stay up to date on ASC news and happenings, visit Follow ASC on Instagram and Twitter @ASCCharlotte and “Like” on Facebook at


Krista Terrell, APR