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Arts and Economic Prosperity

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Wichita Launches AEP6 Study

In partnership with Americans for the Arts, the City of Wichita has participated in Arts and Economic Prosperity (AEP) data collection for the past four 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. Previous studies were published in 1994, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017. (Due to the unique nature of the realities of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the AEP6 study was postponed for 16 months.)

Wichita: The Arts Mean Business

In Wichita specifically, the 2017 AEP study provided evidence that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a significant industry in the City of Wichita – one that generates $94.7 Million annually in total economic activity. This spending:- $43.9 Million by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and an additional $50.8 Million in event related-spending by their audiences – supports 2,841 full time equivalent jobs, generates $70.9 Million in income to residents, and delivers $9.5 Million in local and state government revenue. The chart below shows a steady growth in the economic impact of the arts in Wichita over the years:

AEP Wichita historical data 2005-2022

Currently (2022-2023), the City of Wichita's Division of Arts and Cultural Services is partnering with many local nonprofit arts organizations for the implementation of AEP6. The study includes various surveys throughout non-profit arts and culture events. The two-page survey is issued via a dedicated QR code, hyperlink, or physical survey at events. The survey tracks economic and demographic information from event goers and is completely anonymous.

New for AEP6: Centering Equity and 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 is making a significant expansion beyond its previous iterations by centering equity and inclusion across the study. This change is more than simply responding to a priority. It is transforming the study—a full shake-out of the methodology to reduce systemic bias in survey design, data collection, and analysis; establishing a new local, state, and national partnership model; community engagement and communications strategies; and the creation of new narratives based on the study results.

For the first time, AEP6 will establish a benchmark of arts and culture organizations that primarily serve communities of color, and the audiences that attend their events. It will also identify organizations that have a chief executive who identifies as BIPOC or ALAANA. Researchers will use the data to calculate the economic impact of the BIPOC and ALAANA arts sector.

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.

  • Nonprofit arts and culture organizations are businesses.
    They employ people locally, purchase goods and services from within the community, are members of their Chambers of Commerce, and attract tourists to their regions.
  • The arts drive commerce to local businesses.
    The arts, unlike most industries, leverage significant amounts of event-related spending by their audiences. In 2017, arts attendees spent $31.47 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and lodging—vital income for local businesses.
     
  • Arts travelers are ideal tourists.
    They stay longer and spend more to seek out authentic cultural experiences. One-third of attendees travel from outside the county in which the activity takes place and spend an average of $48 per person. (69% say they traveled specifically to attend the activity.)
     
  • Small investmentsBig returns.
    In 2017, the combined $5 billion in direct arts funding by local, state, and federal governments yielded $27.5 billion in government revenue