ORANGE COUNTY, NC (February 1, 2016)—The Orange County Arts Commission believes the arts mean business. That is the message being delivered by the Arts Commission, who has joined the Arts & Economic Prosperity® 5, a national study measuring the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences.

The research study is being conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s nonprofit organization advancing the arts and arts education. It is the fifth study over the past 20 years to measure the impact of arts spending on local jobs, income paid to local residents, and revenue generated to local and state governments.

As one of nearly 300 study partners across all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, the Orange County Arts Commission will collect detailed financial data about our local nonprofit arts and culture organizations such as our theater and dance companies, museums, festivals, and arts education organizations.

“Many people don’t think of nonprofit arts organizations as businesses,” said Martha Shannon, director, Orange County Arts Commission. “This study will make it clear the arts are a formidable industry in our community—employing people locally, purchasing goods and services from local merchants, and helping to drive tourism and economic development.”

The Orange County Arts Commission is joined by the Town of Carrboro, the Town of Chapel Hill and the Town of Hillsborough, local partners in the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study in Orange County. These local partners will receive studies detailing the economic impact of arts and culture nonprofits in each of their municipalities as well as Orange County as a whole.

“The arts bring very tangible assets and value to Chapel Hill. This Prosperity Study will help demonstrate the economic impact the arts truly have in our community,” said Jeffrey York, Public & Cultural Arts administrator for the Town of Chapel Hill.

“Carrboro is happy to be participating this year in the Arts & Economic Prosperity survey. Arts are a vital component to the economy in Carrboro and it is great to have the data to demonstrate the impact,” said Annette Stone, Community and Economic Development director for the Town of Carrboro.

“The Town of Hillsborough is excited to participate in the study because through it we will be able to show how much investment in the arts perpetuates positive economic returns by supporting local jobs, businesses, and tourism growth for our area,” said Shannan Campbell, Economic Development Planner for the Town of Hillsborough.

These local partners will also collect surveys from attendees at arts events using a short, anonymous questionnaire that asks how much money they spent on items, such as meals, parking and transportation, and retail shopping specifically as a result of attending the event. Previous studies have shown the average attendee spends $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission. Those studies have also shown that, on average, 32 percent of arts attendees travel from outside the county in which the arts event took place, and that those cultural tourists typically spend nearly $40 per person—generating important revenue for local businesses and demonstrating how the arts drive revenue for other businesses in the community.

Surveys will be collected throughout calendar year 2016. The results of the study will be released in June of 2017.

According to Americans for the Arts’ most recent national study, the nonprofit arts industry generated $135.2 billion in total economic activity and supported 4.1 million full-time equivalent jobs during 2010, resulting in $22.3 billion in federal, state and local government revenues. The $135.2 billion total included $61.1 billion in spending by arts organizations and $74.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences on items, such as meals, local transportation and overnight lodging. Complete details about the fiscal year 2010 study are available at

“Our Arts & Economic Prosperity series demonstrates that the arts are an economic and employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation,” said Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business.”

Americans for the Arts’ Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study is supported by The Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts. In addition, Americans for the Arts’ local and statewide study partners are contributing both time and a cost-sharing fee support to the study. To view the full list of the nearly 300 Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study partners, visit

About the Orange County Arts Commission
The Orange County Arts Commission is the official county agency that strengthens the arts in Orange County, North Carolina, which includes the townships of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough. Created in 1985 by Resolution of the Board of County Commissioners, the Arts Commission’s15-member citizen Advisory Board meets the 2nd Monday each month (except for July) from 6:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m. The Orange County Arts Commission is located at 131 W. Margaret Lane (Room 216) in Hillsborough, NC. For more information, please visit, call 919.968.2011 or email