Arts & Economic Prosperity IV: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences in Cumberland County

Nonprofit arts and culture are a $53.7 million industry in Cumberland County. This sector supports 1,769 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $5.4 million in local and state government revenue.

Nonprofit arts and culture organizations spend $32.2 million annually in Cumberland County. This spending is far-reaching: organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services and acquire assets within our county. In addition, these expenditures leveraged a remarkable $21.5 million in further spending by arts and culture audiences—providing vital revenue for local restaurants, hotels, retail stores, parking garages, and other businesses that serve arts and culture audiences.

Cumberland County is one of 182 study regions that participated in Americans for the Arts’ Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, the most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted. The study documents the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture sector in 139 cities and counties, 31 multi-city or multi-county regions, 10 states, and two individual arts districts—representing all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

The study focuses solely on the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and event-related spending by their audiences (not including admission costs). Spending by individual artists and the for-profit arts and culture sector (e.g., radio, advertising, architecture, design, publishing) are also excluded from this study.


Higher than the national median

Cumberland County is consistently higher than the national median in the major study categories:

Cumberland County  National Median
Direct Expenditures  $53,737,556  $49,081,279
Full-Time Equivalent Jobs  1,769  1,533
Local Government Revenue  $2,613,000  $1,946,500
State Government Revenue  $2,797,000  $2,498,000


Arts/cultural events a huge draw!

Cumberland County’s nonprofit arts and culture sector provides attractions that draw visitors to the community. In fact, 52.2 percent of all non-resident survey respondents reported that the primary reason for their trip was “specifically to attend this arts/cultural event.”

Nonlocal attendees who stay overnight in paid lodging spend an average of $122.57 per person as a result of their attendance—significantly more than the $20.62 overall per person average of nonlocal attendees who did not stay overnight in paid lodging.

If we don’t offer it, visitors will go somewhere else

Finally, the audience survey respondents were asked, “If this event were not happening, would you have traveled to another community to attend a similar cultural experience?”

46.5 percent of Cumberland County’s resident cultural attendees report that they would have traveled to a different community in order to attend a similar cultural experience.

66.8 percent of Cumberland County’s non-resident cultural attendees report the same.

These figures demonstrate the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture in the purest sense. If a community does not provide a variety of artistic and cultural experiences, it will fail to attract the new dollars of cultural tourists. It will also lose the discretionary spending of its local residents who will travel elsewhere to experience the arts.

Participation in the arts

47.5 percent of Cumberland County’s arts attendees report that they actively participate in the creation of the arts (e.g., sing in a choir, act in a community play, paint or draw, play an instrument).

More than 50% of arts attendees in Cumberland County report that they do not actively participate in the creation of the arts, though they are clearly people who appreciate the arts.

By demonstrating that investing in the arts and culture yields economic benefits, Arts & Economic Prosperity IV lays to rest a common misconception: that communities support the arts and culture at the expense of local economic development. In fact, they are investing in an industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is a cornerstone of tourism. This report shows that the arts mean business!

Volunteerism: An Economic Impact Beyond Dollars

While arts volunteers may not have an economic impact as defined in this study, they clearly have an enormous impact by helping Cumberland County’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations function as a viable industry.

Arts & Economic Prosperity IV reveals a significant contribution to nonprofit arts and culture organizations as a result of volunteerism. During 2010, 17 Cumberland County participating nonprofit arts and culture organizations reported that a total of 2,057 volunteers donated a total of 63,591 hours. This represents a donation of time with an estimated aggregate value of $1,358,304 (Independent Sector estimates the dollar value of the average 2010 volunteer hour to be $21.36).

Twenty-four nonprofit arts and culture agencies and nonprofits who provide arts and culture programs participated in the Cumberland County study. Financial data reflects 2010 budgets. Audience data was collected from 812 event attendees in 2011. Click here for the full Cumberland County report.

Creating an Arts and Entertainment District

In 2014, the Arts Council commissioned a feasibility study of an arts and culture facility for our community. One of the recommendations of that recent study was the development of an Arts &Entertainment (A&E) District that would define assets, identify district boundaries, develop marketing strategies and more.

Both Arts & Entertainment Districts and Public Art are proven to help:

  • Revitalize downtown
  • Extend the daily activity cycle in downtown
  • Make the city more attractive
  • Create a “cool” place for young people
  • Provide arts activities for locals residents
  • Establish tourist destinations
  • Provide artist housing and employment
  • Encourage business and employment development
  • Strengthen local arts and cultural organizations
  • Develop new cultural facilities
  • Preserve/reuse historic buildings
  • Enhance local property values
  • Attract new residents to the city

Click here to view the Arts & Entertainment District Report

Click here to find out more about the District

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The Arts Council's grants, programs and services are funded in part by contributions from businesses and individuals, and through grants from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Financial information about this organization and a copy of its license are available from the Charitable Solicitation Licensing Section at (888)830-4989 or The license is not an endorsement by the State.

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