At an event today at the City Market Building, the Roanoke Cultural Endowment unveiled the results of Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, the most comprehensive economic study of the City of Roanoke’s nonprofit arts industry ever conducted. According to the study, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $64.2 million in annual economic activity in the City of Roanoke – supporting 1,774 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $6.5 million in local and state government revenues. Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 was conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education.

Results show that the City of Roanoke’s nonprofit arts and cultural organizations spent $25.4 million during the fiscal year 2018-19. This spending is far-reaching; organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services and acquire assets within their community. Those dollars, in turn, generated $18.8 million in household income for local residents and $2.4 million in local and state government revenues.

As a Roanoker who feels a great deal of pride for the cultural vibrancy of our valley, Roanoke Cultural Endowment board member, Katherine Fralin believes “the arts make a difference in our region that takes form in two outcomes: they connect every one of us as human beings, and together, the arts propel our economy. This study sends a clear and welcome message: the arts are an investment that delivers both community well-being and economic vitality.”

Nationally, the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 reveals that the nonprofit arts industry generated $166.3 billion of economic activity in 2015. This activity supported 4.6 million jobs and generated $27.5 billion in revenue to local, state and federal governments.

“This study demonstrates that the arts are an economic and employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive and helps local communities become stronger and healthier places to live. Leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts. Nationally as well as locally the arts mean business.”

Arts Industry Boom for Local Businesses

In addition to spending by organizations, the City of Roanoke’s nonprofit arts and culture industry leverages $38.8 million in event-related spending by its audiences. As a result of attending a cultural event, attendees often eat dinner in local restaurants, pay for parking, buy gifts and souvenirs, and pay a babysitter. What’s more, attendees from out of town often stay overnight in a local hotel. In the City of Roanoke, these dollars support 982 full-time equivalent jobs and generate $4 million in local and state government revenues.

“This study is a myth-buster,” says Roanoke Cultural Endowment board chairman, David Wine. “It alters the perception that the arts are luxuries worth supporting in prosperous times but hard to justify when the economy is struggling. At a time when governments at all levels are making tough budget choices, this study sends an important message: That support for the arts does not come at the expense of economic development. Rather, it is a vital industry – one that supports jobs, generates government revenue, is the cornerstone of tourism and economic development, and drives a creativity-based economy.”

The Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study was conducted by American for the Arts and supported by The Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts. Americans for the Arts’ local, regional, and statewide project partners contributed both time and financial support to the study. Financial information from organizations was collected in partnership with DataArts™, using a new online survey interface. For a full list of the communities who participated in the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study, visit

Read the Full Report or One-Page Summary.

About the Roanoke Cultural Endowment: Roanoke Cultural Endowment is a non-profit community endowment formed in January 2015 by resolution from Roanoke City Council as a private-public fund comprised of both city dollars and private dollars. Upon reaching a goal of $20 million within 10 years, the Endowment will award operational grants to arts and cultural organizations in the City of Roanoke. This will provide operating funds to organizations through a
process that is less random, less political, more predictable, and more stable. The Roanoke Cultural Endowment’s vision is to foster the growth, vitality, and future of a vibrant community where arts and culture are accessible to all and valued as a critical component of a healthy region. 

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