United Arts Council

Wake County’s Nonprofit Arts & Culture Sector Contributed $543.3 Million to Local Economy

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Contact: Lisa McIntosh, Director of Communications
mobile: (919) 210-4104
[email protected]
www.unitedarts.org @UnitedArtsWake



November 9, 2023 

Wake County’s Nonprofit Arts & Culture Sector Contributed $543.3 Million to Local Economy

Raleigh, NC—The United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County announced today that Wake County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $543.3 million in economic activity in 2022. According to the newly released Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), an economic and social impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts, investments by arts organizations and arts agencies were a key driver of the arts sector’s resurgence after several challenging years.

The $543.3 million in county-wide economic impact includes:

  • $192 million in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations 
  • $351.3 million in event-related spending by their audiences 
  • 8,858 jobs providing $365.2 million in personal income
  • $99 million in local, state, and federal government revenue  

The statewide economic activity was $2.23 billion with Wake County contributing almost 25% to the overall impact. The AEP6 study revealed growth of five percent in overall economic impact since 2015, reflecting the extraordinary efforts by North Carolina’s arts agencies, organizations, and state and local governments to raise and distribute funds to support the arts during and post COVID-19. The North Carolina arts and culture sector was a bright spot in the nation, which saw a decline of more than seven percent in overall economic impact.

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“It is obvious when you look around that the arts make Wake County a great place to live,” says Jennifer McEwen, President and CEO of United Arts Wake County. “But what the AEP6 study shows is that the arts are also an important economic driver.”

In addition to the economic impact and beautification of the area, the arts also support education initiatives, community connectivity, and sense of belonging.

  • 6% of arts and culture attendees were from outside the county in which the activity took place, and they spent an average of $74 which is vital income for local merchants.
  • 6% of nonlocal attendees reported that the purpose of their visit was to attend the event where they were surveyed.
  • 85% of respondents agreed that the activity or venue they were attending was “a source of neighborhood pride for the community.”
  • 3% of Wake County residents said they would “feel a sense of loss if that activity or venue was no longer available.”

About AEP6
More than 1,000 North Carolina nonprofit arts and culture organizations provided financial and audience information about their 2022 expenditures and activities. Study data also included behavior and spending data from more than 18,000 attendees to nonprofit arts and culture events from May 2022 to June 2023.

The AEP6 study prioritized equity, community engagement, and inclusivity. With the goal of reducing systemic bias, Americans for the Arts transformed its approach and expanded the inclusion and participation of organizations serving or representing BIPOC- (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and ALAANA- (African, Latine, Asian, Arab, Native American) identifying communities.

Nationally, the study showed that America’s nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $151.7 billion industry—one that supports 2.6 million jobs and generates $29.1 billion in government revenue.

About United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County:

The United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County is designated by the Wake County Commissioners and the North Carolina Arts Council as the official local arts agency for Wake County. As a private nonprofit, United Arts has worked for more than 40 years to build a better Wake County through the support of and advocacy for the arts. United Arts partners with businesses, individuals, foundations, and government to provide life-changing arts programming and support to our schools and community, resources and opportunities for artists, and arts integration training for teachers. Learn more at UnitedArts.org


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