Nebraska Jazz Orchestra

Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine performs with the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra at the Lied Center for Performing Arts last year. People who attend nonprofit art, theater and entertainment events in Lincoln spend an estimated $48 million each year, according to a new study.

Journal Star file photo

Nonprofit art, theater and entertainment have a $99 million a year impact in Lincoln, based on a study by Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit organization.

That includes the $43 million in salaries paid to the 1,397 employees of the 40 organizations that filled out a survey for the study.

It also includes the estimated $48 million spent by people who attended events.

Based on a survey of 1,121 people, the average eventgoer in Lincoln spends $20.86 per event, not including the price of tickets. That might include dinner before an event, a drink afterward, or a hotel room for those coming from out of town.

Or, in the case of a Minnesota town, it included the $60 that a dairy farmer paid to have his cows milked while he went to the theater, said Randy Cohen, vice president of research and policy for Americans for the Arts.

Cohen presented the economic prosperity report to the Lincoln City Council and Lancaster County Board, which meet jointly each quarter.

Lancaster County was one of 341 regions across the county that participated in the study, Cohen said.

The results, said Cohen, are myth busters that the arts offer only esoteric benefits to a community.

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They are also businesses. They employ people locally. They drive tourism, he said.

The economic impact study used models developed for each community by the School of Economics at Georgia Tech.

It shows that government funds spent on the arts are "not disappearing down some black hole of goodness," Cohen said.

Twenty-one percent of the attendees at nonprofit art, theater and entertainment events in Lincoln live outside the county, and those visitors spend an average of $42.96 on event-related purchases, not including tickets, Cohen said.

Nonprofit businesses in the study included theaters, museums, zoos, gardens, and in Lincoln,  Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.



Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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