Although not traditionally viewed as a big moneymaker, it turns out the nonprofit arts and culture industry substantially benefits society’s bottom line, according to a five-year economic impact study by Americans for the Arts, a national arts advocacy group.
In Hawaii, the arts generate $2.06 million in annual economic activity, the study found. This includes supporting the equivalent of 5,968 full-time jobs and providing $23.2 million in local and state government revenues.
Nationally, the sector generates $166.3 billion a year in economic activity.
The benefits accrue in a ripple effect out of various transactions that show how deeply the arts are integrated throughout all levels of society, from business to education, said Terry Liu, consultant to the Hawaii Arts Alliance, a statewide arts organization.
“We’re hoping that this acknowledges that we all work together. A lot of industries in Hawaii, like manufacturing and design, tourism and hotels, already know that,” Liu said.
Budget data on overall expenditures were collected from 109 local nonprofits, including museums, artists guilds, performing arts organizations and publishers. During 2015, the nonprofits spent a total of $125.9 million which, in turn, generated $107.6 million in household income for local residents.
A survey filled out by 1,212 audience members attending a Hawaii performance or exhibit in 2016 revealed additional benefits to the local economy, such as paying for babysitters, parking, souvenirs, eating out or staying in a hotel in conjunction with an event.
Among nonresident survey respondents, 44.8 percent reported they visited Hawaii specifically to attend an arts or cultural event.
The monetary equivalents of contributions by volunteers and in-kind donations were also factored in. The study, “Arts & Economic Prosperity 5,” can be viewed at hawaiiartsalliance.org/aep5.