Local nonprofit arts and culture organizations generate $330 million in annual economic activity

A new study reveals that the nonprofit arts industry in the Portland tri-county region also supports 11,505 full-time jobs and returns more than $27 million in revenue to state and local coffers

PORTLAND, ORE – The nonprofit arts and culture sector in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties generated more than $330 million in annual economic activity in fiscal year 2015 according to Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, a comprehensive economic impact study released by Americans for the Arts, the Oregon Arts Commission and the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) with additional support from the Clackamas County Arts Alliance and the Westside Cultural Alliance.

“We all know that culture and the arts are essential to our neighborhoods, our schools and our way of life,” said Eloise Damrosch, executive director of RACC. “The arts are also a powerful generator of economic activity, and now we have impressive data to prove it. Nonprofit arts and culture organizations attract tourists, buoy local businesses and support jobs throughout the Portland metro region.”

The study reveals that 183 local nonprofit arts and culture organizations spent $214.4 million during fiscal year 2015. This spending is far-reaching: organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services and acquire assets within the community.

In addition, these nonprofit arts and culture organizations leveraged $116 million in event-related spending by their 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. Attendees from out of town spend even more, including overnight stays in local hotels.

The combined spending by both arts organizations and their audiences results in a total economic impact of $330.4 million – a 30% increase since the last study was published in 2012. A summary of the report is attached, and the report is available online at www.racc.org/economicimpact.

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish was impressed with the results. “Portland is proud to be a creative city, one that honors and celebrates art and culture,” he said. “It’s in our DNA, and part of what makes Portland special. The economic impact of the arts, quantified in this report, helps to drive our local economy, creating good jobs and supporting a vibrant and growing city.”

Statewide, Oregon’s nonprofit arts and culture sector contributed $687 million and 22,299 jobs to Oregon’s economy in 2015. Nationally, the nonprofit arts industry produced $166.3 billion in economic activity, supporting 4.6 million full-time equivalent jobs and generating $27.5 billion in revenue to local, state and federal governments – a yield well beyond their $5 billion in collective government allocations for the arts.

“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.”

The Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study was conducted by Americans 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 Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, visit www.AmericansForTheArts.org/AEP5Partners.


The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) provides grants for artists, nonprofit organizations and schools in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties; manages an internationally acclaimed public art program; raises money and awareness for the arts through Work for Art; convenes forums, networking events and other community gatherings; provides workshops and other forms of technical assistance for artists; and oversees a program to integrate arts and culture into the standard curriculum in public schools through The Right Brain Initiative. RACC values a diversity of artistic and cultural experiences and is working to build a community in which everyone can participate in culture, creativity and the arts. For more information visit racc.org.