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Study: Arts’ Impact on County Coffers Doubled in Five Years

A new study has found that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Arlington have nearly doubled their impact on county coffers in the last five years.

The national study, “Arts and Economic Prosperity 5” by Americans for the Arts, found that nonprofit arts generate $189.2 million each year in Arlington and supports more than 5,000 full-time jobs. It also generates $13.9 million in tax revenues each year for state and local governments, the study found.

Of that, Arlington County receives approximately $7.5 million a year, up from $3.9 million in tax revenue recorded five years ago, when the last study was completed.

“Arlington has a vibrant arts ecosystem of 127 nonprofit arts and culture organizations that range from amateur theater to WETA, which is one of the largest producers of content for PBS, which is also headquartered in Arlington,” Michelle Isabelle-Stark, director of Arlington Cultural Affairs, said in a statement. “These numbers reflect the breadth and impact of that ecosystem.”

The study documented the economic contributions of the arts in 341 counties and regions across the country, including Arlington County. Only nonprofit organizations were studied, so calculations from for-profit organizations such as movie theaters or commercial concert venues were not included.

Some other notable local statistics from the study:

  • Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations provide 5,156 full-time jobs in Arlington
  • $118.6 million dollars of household income is produced annually
  • $170 million is spent annually to keep the organizations running
  • Audience members spend over $18 million each year on amenities such as lodging, child care, meals and transportation

“Not only do these non-profit organizations entertain residents with stellar performances, cultural events and heritage festivals, but they also generate $7.512 million in revenue for the county government,” said Janet Kopenhaver, chair of advocacy group Embracing Arlington Arts. “This translates into an economic powerhouse industry for our county and its residents.”

There are over 50 locally-focused art groups in Arlington County along with hundreds of independent visual artists, whose genres range from performing to media arts. In combination with heritage groups the represent countries such as Vietnam and Bolivia, over 4,000 programs are conducted annually that reach almost 600,000 people, according to the county.

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