Arts, Their Audiences Bring $45 million to NWA Economy

An economic study released today shows the nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and spending related to them in Northwest Arkansas generates $45.5 million in economic activity every year.

Americans for the Arts completed the look at Northwest Arkansas as part of the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV report. In Northwest Arkansas, which is defined as Benton and Washington counties in the study, the research illustrates the importance of the arts and cultural activities and their audiences to the overall economy.

The report’s executive summary breaks down the $45.5 million in economic activity, saying $30.9 million is direct spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and an additional $14.6 million can be tied to event-related spending by their audiences. The spending and nonprofit organizations support 1,488 full-time equivalent jobs, generating $29.6 million in household income.

The research in Northwest Arkansas was funded by the Walton Arts Center, the Northwest Arkansas Council and the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce.

The economic impact of the arts and culture in Northwest Arkansas has nearly tripled when compared to the 2006 study done by the same national organization. The earlier study found that the arts and culture organizations and related spending provided over 500 jobs and about $16 million of economic activity annually. The 2006 study found that about 250,000 people attended arts and cultural events that year.

The updated study showed almost 750,000 people were in audiences in 2010. The number is expected to grow markedly due to the opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in November 2011.