Arts & Economic Prosperity 

AEP6 Results Show Dramatic Impact in Wichita

In partnership with Americans for the Arts, the City of Wichita has participated in Arts and Economic Prosperity (AEP) data collection for the past three decades.

AEP6 is the sixth economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in the U.S. This study is conducted approximately every five years to gauge the economic impact (on employment, government revenue, and household income) of spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and the event-related spending by their audiences.

AEP6 represents a reset from its previous versions, establishing a new benchmark in the AEP study series.

  • Americans for the Arts changed their approach (expanded the study inclusion criteria from arts to arts and culture implemented a new data collection methodology, and moved our economic impact analysis modeling to the IMPLAN platform), and
  • The world around us changed (COVID-19 pandemic, a recession, decrease in audiences and changed attendance habits, profound job losses in the arts and hospitality industries, and billions of dollars to arts and culture from federal pandemic relief funding such as the CARES Act).

When the first AEP study was published in 1994, the City of Wichita was one just 33 American arts communities represented. Today, AEP6 provides detailed findings on 373 regions from across all 50 states and Puerto Rico—ranging in population from 4,000 to 4 million—and representing rural, suburban, and large urban communities. 

Wichita’s arts community has doubled our economic activity since the data was last presented in 2017, despite the challenges presented by pandemic closures

In Wichita specifically, the 2022 AEP study provides evidence that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a significant industry in the City of Wichita – one that generates $184.7 million annually in total economic activity. This spending - $78.5 million by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and an additional $106.2 million in event-related expenditures by their audiences supports 2,929 full time equivalent jobs in Wichita, generates $108.8 million in income to residents, and delivers $32.3 million in local, state and federal government tax revenue. The chart below shows a steady growth in the economic impact of the arts in Wichita over the years:

AEP3 - 2005AEP4 - 2010AEP5 - 2015AEP6 - 2022
Total Impact$49, 144, 808$66,157,686$94,725,128$184,710,568
Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Jobs1,5122,0062,8412,929
Organizational Expenditures$27,588,190$37,094,163$43,936,656$78,517,922
Audience Spending$21,556,618$29,063,523$50,788,472$106,192,646

A few things to keep in mind:

  • 68 public and non-profit organizations participated in AEP6 data collection in Wichita. The study did not include for-profit arts and cultural organizations (in Wichita those might include: music venues, comedy clubs, melodrama/dinner theatres, commercial art galleries, etc.).
  • The study focuses on special event spending specifically – not general admission to attractions or educational classes. However, we did survey at several events which were free to attend.
  • Why does AEP exclude the cost of admission and on-site food and drink purchases? Those costs are paid directly to the arts and culture organizations themselves and are captured as expenses on a separate survey completed by those organizations. This methodology avoids “double counting" those dollars in the analysis.

Wichita Arts Economic Prosperity Survey Results 2022  Opens in new window

Centering Equity & Inclusion

Americans for the Arts is committed to addressing equity and inclusion as a critical component of the methodology, organizational participation, and collection of data for AEP6 by centering and representing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American) identifying communities-a segment of the nonprofit arts and culture sector that has been underrepresented in past studies.

AEP6 included an expectation—for the first time—that research partners would collect a portion of audience surveys at events that were presented, produced, or hosted by BIPOC and ALAANA organizations. We found that spending by attendees at BIPOC and ALAANA organizations was nearly identical to the overall national average ($38.29 and $38.46 per person, respectively). Similar findings were noted in the social impact questions. For example, 81.2% of attendees at BIPOC and ALAANA organizations agreed, “This venue or facility is an important pillar for me within my community.” The figure for all attendees was 81.4%. 

With the research showing proportional economic and community impacts, these findings should initiate new, or escalate existing, funding conversations about BIPOC and ALAANA organizations receiving fair and proportional financial support—a necessary first step in correcting the grant award processes that have frequently proven to be historically and systemically unbalanced.

Art Affects Wichita

Arts and Cultural Services Director Lindsay Benacka and Council Member Becky Tuttle discuss the impact the arts have on Wichita, both culturally and economically, and the importance of the City's participation in the AEP6 survey.

Quantifying the National Impact of the Arts

On a national scale, data collected in the AEP series demonstrates that an investment in the arts provides both cultural and economic benefits.

  • Pride in community.
    89% of attendees agreed that the activity or venue they were attending was “a source of neighborhood pride for the community.” 86% said they would “feel a sense of loss if that activity or venue was no longer available,” and 86% felt it important that future generations also be able to have that cultural experience.
  • Nonprofit arts and culture organizations are businesses
    They employ people locally, purchase supplies and services from nearby businesses, and engage in the marketing and promotion of their cities and regions. Their very act of doing business—creating, presenting, exhibiting, engaging—has a positive economic impact and improves community well-being. Nonprofit arts and culture organizations spent an estimated $73.3 billion which supports 1.6 million jobs and generates $18.3 billion in local, state, and federal government revenue.
  • Arts and culture drives commerce to local businesses..
    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 or pet care. Attendees at nonprofit arts and culture events spend $38.46 per person per event, beyond the cost of admission—vital income for local merchants and a value-add that few industries can compete with.
  • Arts and culture strengthens the visitor economy.
    One-third (30.1%) of attendees travel from outside the county in which the activity takes place; they spend an average of $60.57, twice that of their local counterparts ($29.77). Three-quarters (77%) of nonlocal attendees reported that the primary purpose of their visit was to attend that cultural event.
  • A vibrant arts and culture community keeps residents spending locally.
    When local attendees to nonprofit arts and culture events were asked what they would have done if the event where they were surveyed had not been available, 51% said they would have “traveled to a different community to attend a similar arts or cultural activity."
  • Arts and culture builds more livable communities.
    86% of Americans say, “arts and culture are important to their community’s quality of life and livability,” and 79% of the American public believe that the arts are “important to their community’s businesses, economy, and local jobs.”
  • Arts sparks creativity and innovation. 
    “Creativity” is among the top five applied skills sought by business leaders—per the Conference Board’s Ready to Innovate report—with 72% saying creativity is of “high importance” when hiring. For the second year in a row, “creativity” tops the list as the #1 soft skill needed in business (LinkedIn).

Learn more about AEP6 at

Download the full AEP6 report (52 page Google Doc)

Download Ten Reasons to Support the Arts in Wichita in 2024 (one-sheet)