Whether it’s a night at the opera in Phoenix or a day trip to Yuma for an arts festival, local economies get a big boost from Arizona’s nonprofit arts and culture sector. How big? According to new data reported today by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, in 2022 the state’s nonprofit arts & culture sector generated a staggering $1.1 billion in economic activity.

Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), a national economic and social impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts, comprises data collected in 373 study regions representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

In Arizona, data collection was coordinated by regional partners in 9 regions: Chandler, Mesa, Flagstaff, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Sedona, Tempe, Pima County, and metro-Phoenix’s West Valley.

Additionally, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency of the State of Arizona, directly partnered with 20 arts and culture organizations, most in towns outside Maricopa County and Pima County, to gather data from historically under-represented communities. Past efforts to report on the economic and social impact of the nonprofit arts and culture sector in Arizona have struggled to reflect the incredible depth and diversity of arts and culture activity throughout the state.

“Thanks to the partnership and local leadership of arts administrators and practitioners in communities such as Winslow, Safford, Nogales, and Willcox, AEP6 offers the most comprehensive picture yet of the direct impact of nonprofit arts events on local economies,” said Jacky Alling, Interim Executive Director at the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

She added, “we are grateful too for the opportunity these engagements provided for Arts Commission staff to deepen relationships with arts and culture organizations in more remote parts of the state.”

A 300% return on state investment

Nonprofit Arts & Culture organizations participating in the study, which range from rural community choirs to metropolitan art museums, employ over 11,000 Arizonans who take home over $450 million in wages each year, contributing $15.4 million in state tax revenues.

Economic Impact of nonprofit arts sector employment
Employment (Jobs) 11,266
Personal Income Paid to Residents $457,562,698
State Tax Revenue $15,434,200


“What we see in these figures is the sector’s return on the state’s investment,” said Patrick McWhortor, Chief Executive Officer of the citizens advocacy group Arizona Citizens for the Arts. “In a year when the State budget included a one-time allocation of $5 million in support of Arizona’s nonprofit arts & culture sector, the sector returned over $15 million in tax revenues, or $3.08 for every $1 invested by the state.”

Event-related spending by arts & culture audiences totaled $598 million

Much of the data collected for AEP6 were gathered through “audience intercept surveys,” brief questionnaires filled out by people attending arts events presented by nonprofit organizations. These surveys supplemented the organizations’ own event income records with first-person accounts of audience expenditures beyond the event itself, providing a more complete view of the economic impact of arts event attendance.


Attendance to Arts and Culture Events
Total Attendance to In-Person Events 14,879,492
Average Per Person, Per Event Expenditure $41.04
Total Event-Related Expenditures $598,156,832


As illustrated by Brad DeBiase, Organizational Programs Manager at the Arizona Commission on the Arts, “a couple going into the city to see a concert at the community arts center will pay for parking, dine at a nice restaurant near the venue, and shop at local boutique stores. After the show, they might enjoy a night cap at a nearby cocktail bar. If visiting from out of town, they may even require overnight lodging.”

“When measuring the economic impact of an arts event,” DeBiase added, “ticket sales only tell a small part of the story. To get the full story, you need to look at all the activity that surrounds the arts event.”

Audiences express importance of arts and culture

In addition to economic impact data, AEP6 also sought to measure the social benefits of community arts and culture organizations and events. Audience intercept surveys included social impact statements to which event attendees could either agree or disagree. Across the board, more than 80% of survey takers expressed positive feelings toward community arts venues and activities.

Level of Agreement with Social Impact Statements
“This venue or facility is an important pillar for me within my community.” 80.0%
“I would feel a great sense of loss if this activity or venue were no longer available.” 84.6%
“This activity or venue is inspiring a sense of pride in this neighborhood or community.” 86.7%


“A community’s arts and culture production is a reflection of the local identity and reinforces one’s sense of place and belonging,” noted Chris Elliott, a Public Ally placed with the Arts Commission by ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation who co-managed the agency’s participation in the AEP6 study. “This social impact can be more difficult to quantify but is just as important as dollars generated when speaking to the value of Arizona’s nonprofit arts and culture sector.”

Learn more

Additional AEP6 reporting, information, and resources can be found on the Arizona Commission on the Arts website: https://azarts.gov/aep6.

The full national report, a map of the 373 study regions, and a two-page economic impact summary for each, can be found on the Americans for the Arts website at AEP6.AmericansForTheArts.org.