Nashville Nonprofit Arts & Culture Industry Generates $429.3 Million In Economic Activity

Mayor Megan Barry at the Nashville Ballet for Nashville’s AEP5 announcement

By Carol White, Associate Director of Operations –

On Thursday, July 27, the Metro Nashville Arts Commission unveiled the results of the Arts & Economic Prosperity local study to a lively gathering of arts and culture agency representatives, media and local elected officials at the Nashville Ballet Martin Center. The study documented that the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $429.3 million a year in economic activity in Metro Nashville, support s 14,277 full-time equivalent jobs and delivers $51.1 million in local and state government revenue.

The Metro Arts Commission maximized the impact of their study release by engaging the mayor and local officials, coordinating with the Tennessee Arts Commission and partnering with the Nashville Arts Coalition and local arts agency representatives at a press event. They posted a video of the event online and shared the news release through a variety of traditional and social media channels, garnering a spread of positive coverage, including the Nashville Business Journal and Tennessean. At the briefing for arts organizations just before the press conference, arts organizations were encouraged to share the results with their boards so that those many community leaders could help spread the word. Metro also used local quotes to highlight their messages.

“The arts have always been part of the fabric of our community and one of the key elements of our special quality of life. This study documents in detail the role these organizations play in our economy and in job creation—priorities of my administration. One of the key reasons my administration increased the Metro Arts grants budget in FY18 is because we know that these organizations are vital to our success as a global, culturally and economically vibrant city,” Mayor Megan Barry said in a statement.

The study reported that there were 6,573,673 nonprofit arts and culture attendees in Nashville in 2015, 60 percent of whom were residents. Of the nonresident survey respondents, 75 percent indicated that the primary purpose of their visit to the county was “specifically to attend this arts/cultural event.” Nonresident attendees spent an average of 112 percent more per person than local attendees ($55.97 vs. $26.41) as a result of their attendance to cultural events.

“Nashville is known globally as a music town, but it is so much more. We have emerged as a global arts powerhouse and are consistently in the top 4 arts and culture markets in the U.S. This study demonstrates the vital role our nonprofit arts organizations – museums, theatres, festivals, dance and other performance sites – contribute to the vitality and economy of our city. Making this contribution visible through data will help our cultural organizations garner larger audiences and investments so they can continue to grow, adapt and serve our changing community,” noted Jen Cole, Executive Director of Metro Arts, the city office of arts and culture.