Northwest Arkansas’ nonprofit arts and culture industry generated more than $230 million in economic activity in 2022, according to a study released this week by Americans for the Arts, the local Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange and other partner organizations.
The impact was almost double the same figure in 2015 and represents more than 3 million cumulative attendees of local performances and events buying tickets, meals and other needs, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 report, or AEP6. That money then flowed into thousands of jobs and spending by arts organizations that topped $200 million. Altogether, this economic activity also resulted in roughly $16.6 million in local and state tax revenue.
“The detailed findings of the AEP6 study provide valuable data on the true impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations on Arkansas’s economy,” said Patrick Ralston, director of the Arkansas Arts Council. “Local arts organizations are economic engines in the truest sense that consistently bring an enormous return on investment even in rural areas of the state. It is a privilege for the Arkansas Arts Council to stand with partners like CACHE, Arkansans for the Arts, and Americans for the Arts as we share the good news about our state’s thriving creative economy.”
NWA’s nonprofit arts scene serves a variety of cultural backgrounds and ranges from community galleries and venues to regional attractions such as the Walton Arts Center, TheatreSquared and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
The region’s impact represented most of the economic activity calculated by the study for all of Arkansas, though a CACHE representative noted that the state figure is likely an undercount because local organizations were more likely to participate in the report. CACHE is a local nonprofit that supports diverse creative communities across the region through grants and other programs. It was initially part of the Northwest Arkansas Council before becoming an independent organization.
Besides the dollar figures, the study’s authors said the nonprofit arts and culture industry plays a vital social role, inspiring volunteerism and a sense that the industry makes the region a better place to live, based on survey responses from almost 1,000 attendees.
“AEP6 reminds us of how critical the arts and culture industry is to community well-being, neighborhood pride, and integrative empathy,” said Jeannette Balleza Collins, co-chair of the CACHE Board. “The data underscores the creative power of the arts to accelerate a common sense of belonging and stoke economic vibrancy, all the while highlighting how diverse representation makes Arkansas stronger.”