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The arts and culture in Lincoln provide inspiration and joy to our residents, beautify public spaces and strengthen our community’s social fabric.

Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are also businesses. We employ people locally, purchase goods and services from other local businesses and attract tourists. Event-related spending by arts audiences generates valuable revenue for local merchants such as restaurants, retail stores, parking garages and hotels.

The Lincoln Arts Council partnered with Americans for the Arts in conducting Arts and Economic Prosperity 5, a study of the economic impact of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences. The study provides evidence that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a significant industry in Lincoln – one that generates $99 million in total economic activity. This spending – $50.7 million by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and an additional $48.3 million in event-related spending by their audiences – supports 2,976 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $74 million in household income to local residents and delivers $9.8 million in local and state government revenue.

This economic impact study sends a strong signal that when we support the arts, we not only enhance our quality of life; we also invest in Lincoln’s economic well-being.

Data were collected from 40 eligible nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Lincoln. Each provided detailed budget information for fiscal year 2015. To measure the impact of spending by cultural audiences in Lincoln, data were collected from 1,121 event attendees during 2016. The organizations reported that the aggregate attendance to their events was 2.3 million during 2015. Nonresident attendees spent an average of 185 percent more per person than local attendees ($42.96 vs. $15.06) as a result of their attendance to cultural events. As would be expected from a traveler, higher spending was typically found in the categories of lodging, meals and transportation. When a community attracts cultural tourists, it harnesses significant economic rewards.

This study puts to rest a misconception that communities support arts and culture at the expense of local economic development. In fact, communities that support the arts and culture are investing in an industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue and is a cornerstone of tourism. This Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study shows conclusively that the arts mean business in Lincoln!


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