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Study: Cumberland arts industry generated $72.2 million of economic activity in 2022

Also says nonprofit arts organizations and events supported 1,111 jobs


A recent study reported that the nonprofit arts industry in 2022 generated $72.2 million in economic activity in Cumberland County, said Bob Pinson, the president and CEO of The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 study, conducted nationally in 2022 and 2023 by the Americans For The Arts advocacy organization, also found this activity:

  • Supported 1,111 jobs, 487 that are “unique to the arts” and 624 that are related or support the arts.
  • Provided $44.1 million of personal income and $9.5 million in taxes to the local, state and federal governments.

Pinson presented these statistics and other information to about 70 people during a Morning of Insights breakfast on Tuesday at the Skyview on Hay Event Center downtown. Those in the audience included elected officials, leaders from local arts organizations, city staff and local news media outlets.

“We are a business. We are a big business,” Pinson said of the local arts industry.

The study worked with more than 16,000 nonprofit cultural organizations, Pinson said, and gathered information from local communities to produce a local, state and national assessment.

“Locally, the way this study was unfolded, was we had a series of teams that went out across the various venues in Fayetteville, Cumberland County,” Pinson said. “They did in-person surveys and in-person studies surveys at that time, and gathered that data.

“At the same time, the organizations across the country — the cultural organizations — completed a very in-depth financial review of the various finances of their organization.”

In North Carolina, Pinson said, the study reported the arts and cultural industry is a $2.23 billion industry, with 38,000 full-time jobs.

Nationally, the study says, “In 2022, nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences generated $151.7 billion in economic activity—$73.3 billion in spending by the organizations, which leveraged an additional $78.4 billion in event-related spending by their audiences.”

It says the economic activity supported 2.6 million jobs and $101 million in personal income.

An arts event produces more economic effect than just the cost of buying a ticket, Pinson said.

“When people attend a cultural event, they often make an outing of it — dining at a restaurant, paying for parking or public transportation, enjoying dessert after the show, and returning home to pay for child support or pet care,” Pinson said. “Overall, in Cumberland County, attendees spend $30.44 per person per event, and that’s beyond the cost of admission.”

In 2022, arts and cultural activities drew more than 900,000 people to Cumberland County, the study says.

And they bring money to Cumberland County from other places, Pinson said, in that 22.3% of participants travel here to attend events and performances.

“A fourth of the people that come to the events that we do, and the activities that we have and support in the cultural community, are [from] outside Fayetteville, Cumberland County,” he said.

These visitors spend an average of $41.37, he said.

The nonprofit Arts Council is the leading local arts organization. It issues grants to local artists and arts organizations, holds art exhibitions, arranges for outdoor sculptures downtown, and does a variety of other arts and educational programs.

“We have got a lot to be happy for and a lot to celebrate in this community,” Pinson said. “We need to celebrate more. We need to continue a trend that is happening this past year or two or three, again, coming out of Covid, is we need to continue to work together as partners in what we do.

“We are all working together toward the same goal: To better our community and make our world a better place for ourselves, and for our children, and for those that come after us.”

Senior reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and pwoolverton@cityviewnc.com.

This story was made possible by contributions to CityView News Fund, a 501c3 charitable organization committed to an informed democracy.

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