Washington County has always had great riches when it comes to arts and culture. Now we know the actual dollar value, thanks to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 (AEP5), a survey undertaken every five years by Americans for the Arts. AEP5 measures the impact of the nonprofit arts and culture sector on national, state, and local levels. Washington County’s 2015 numbers included an impressive $18.5 million in total economic activity, with $3.3 million in actual spending by local nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.
An official report from the 2016 AEP5 surveys was presented by Kiran Singh Sirah, President of the International Storytelling Center, to the Washington County Commission during their meeting on October 23rd, 2017 at 6 PM.
Attendees of cultural events also spend money in local restaurants, shops, gas stations, and lodgings, among other businesses. The AEP5 revealed that the 2015 impact of this spending in Washington County was $15.2 million dollars. In addition, the arts and culture sector supported 553 full-time equivalent jobs and generated income of $11 million to county citizens. Local and state government revenue was $2.6 million.
Anne B. Pope, Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts is pleased by the results of the study. “This study demonstrates that nonprofit arts and culture is a significant industry in Tennessee and Washington County,” she says. “It supports jobs, generating local and state revenue and driving tourism.”
Twenty local nonprofit organizations collected and submitted the data for the survey results. This data was combined with other counties’ results to produce a statewide report, showing that Tennessee’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $1.17 billion in annual economic activity—supporting 38,482 full-time equivalent jobs, and generating $837.8 million in household income and delivering $135.9 million in local and state government revenues. Nationwide, the AEP5 study reveals that the nonprofit arts and culture industry produces $166.3 billion in economic activity every year. In addition, it supports 4.6 million full-time equivalent jobs and generates $96.07 billion in household income.
The county’s three mayors—Kelly Wolfe (Jonesborough), David Tomita (Johnson City), and Dan Eldridge (Washington County), issued a joint statement based on the results: “The arts have always been a catalyst for economic regeneration. We welcome the findings from this report, which gives clear evidence that the arts are a vital force for economic prosperity in our region.”
Organizations that contributed to the collection of data for AEP5 include Academy of Strings; Art Transforms Inc.; Artlandia – Johnson City; Blue Plum Festival; Create Appalachia; East Tennessee State University Division of Theatre and Dance; East Tennessee State University Foundation’s Mary B. Martin School of The Arts; East Tennessee State University Slocumb Galleries; Hands On! Regional Museum; International Storytelling Center; Johnson City Arts; Johnson City Symphony Orchestra; Jonesborough Music on the Square; Jonesborough Repertory Theatre; Jonesborough Yarn Exchange; Little Chicago Downtown Music and Arts Festival; Main Street Jonesborough; Tennessee Watercolor Society; Umoja/Unity; and Washington County Economic Development Council (concert series).
Click here to see the full report.