Arts & Economic Prosperity 5

Nonprofit arts sector generates $2.12 billion in N.C.

The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $2.12 billion in direct economic activity in North Carolina, supporting almost 72,000 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $201.5 million in revenue for local governments and the State of North Carolina.

“For 50 years the North Carolina Arts Council has been guided by the belief that the arts uplift individuals, transform our communities and enhance the reputation of our state,” Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the N.C. Arts Council said. “’Arts for all citizens,’ the founding ideal for the Arts Council in 1967, has fostered economic success and public participation in the arts across our state.”

The new study, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences in North Carolina, is part of a national study conducted by Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the nation’s leading nonprofit arts organization for advancing the arts in America.

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 in North Carolina at a Glance

The nonprofit arts sector is thriving, with more than $2.12 billion nonprofit arts & culture industry spending
  • The nonprofit arts and culture sector generate $201.5 million in revenue for local governments and the State of North Carolina.
  • The nonprofit arts and culture sector supports almost 72,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
  • Audiences spent more than $1.18 billion in 2015, with each in-state resident spending an average of $27.95 in the community.
  • Nonresident attendees spent an average of $61.86 per person.
  • A total of 109,525 volunteers donated 4.6 million hours to the nonprofit arts organizations that participated in the study, representing an estimated value of $108,772,044.

The state’s nonprofit arts and culture sector includes almost 2,500 organizations with over 50-percent participating in the study. The 1,233 organizations surveyed spend $937.5 million annually, and their audiences spend $1.18 billion annually.

The N.C. Arts Council's leadership sustains an arts infrastructure that reaches all 100 N.C. counties with support of diverse programs that allow community organizations to develop innovative education programs, revitalize downtowns, and promote distinctive cultural traditions.

The arts in North Carolina have reinforced the state’s creative identity and preserved our cultural heritage as a legacy for future generations. The Arts Council's growing body of research shows that the arts create more prosperous communities, and a stronger and more competitive North Carolina now and in the future.

North Carolina has the fourth highest economic activity among the 20 states that participated in the study.

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 National Impact at a Glance


32 AEP5 participant counties
  • Nationwide AEP 5 documented the nonprofit arts industry produces $166.3 billion in economic activity every year.
  • The national nonprofit arts and culture industry supports 4.6 million full-time equivalent jobs.
  • Nonprofit arts and culture organizations return $27.5 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues.

Read a one page North Carolina Overview

Read the full North Carolina Report

The 32 highlighted counties are served by local study partners. Announcements by study partners are scheduled throughout the summer and early fall. Contact the local arts council for details.