ArtsMemphis Announces AEP5 Results

Left to right: Patrick Danehey, Anne Pope (Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission), and Elizabeth Rouse (President & CEO of ArtsMemphis), and Lucy Lee (Board Chair of ArtsMemphis).

By Suzanne Lynch, Director of Marketing and Development –

ArtsMemphis held a press conference on August 31 to announce the Shelby County Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 (AEP5) results. A packed house listened to remarks by Phil Trenary, President & CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber; Anne Pope, Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission; Ritche Manley Bowden, Chair of the Tennessee Arts Commission; Elizabeth Rouse, President & CEO of ArtsMemphis; and Lucy Lee, Board Chair of ArtsMemphis.

According to the report, AEP5 provides evidence that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a significant industry in Shelby County—one that generates $197.3 million in total economic activity. This spending—$118.2 million by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and an additional $79.1 million in event-related spending by their audiences—supports 6,138 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $160.8 million in household income to local residents, and delivers $22.4 million in local and state government revenue.

“This is a great example of what we mean when we talk about ‘Powering Authentic Assets’ in our community,” said ArtsMemphis President & CEO Elizabeth Rouse. “The arts really are an authentic asset—not only for our quality of life, but for our economy.”

The nonprofit arts and culture industry, unlike most industries, leverages a significant amount of event-related spending by its audiences. For example, when patrons attend a cultural event, they may pay to park their car, purchase dinner at a restaurant, shop in nearby stores, eat dessert after the show, and pay a babysitter upon their return home. Attendees from out of town often spend the night in a hotel. This spending generates related commerce for local businesses such as restaurants, parking garages, retail stores, and hotels. Local businesses that cater to arts and culture audiences reap the rewards of this economic activity.

“The arts represent a key part of our city’s identity,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, “From our award-winning film festivals to our world-class performing arts groups and our one-of-a-kind museums. The AEP5 results prove that all these things are major drivers for the local economy.”

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said, “This study reinforces the value of Shelby County’s cultural assets. They have a clear and measurable impact on the success of local businesses.”

ArtsMemphis led local efforts and data was collected from 71 eligible nonprofit arts and cultural organizations that are located in Shelby County. The participating organizations reported that the aggregate attendance to their events was 2.6 million during 2015.