Chicago Nonprofit Arts and Culture Sector is $3.2 Billion Industry

A 2017 study on the economic impact created by nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Chicago finds that arts organizations and their audiences contribute at least $3.2 billion annually to the Chicago economy. Key findings from the report include:

Nonprofit arts sector is a major industry


$3.2 billion in annual spending by arts organizations and their audiences supports over 85,000 full-time-equivalent jobs, generates $2.0 billion in household income to local residents, and delivers $336.5 million in local and state government revenue. 

Cultural tourism offers even greater opportunities for growth


This study shows that cultural tourism has the potential to attract significant new spending to Chicago. Currently, one in three arts attendees are non-residents and spend, on average, over three-and-a-half times more per person than local arts attendees ($97.23 versus $27.56). Further, over 40% of all attendees interviewed said they would travel to a different location for similar cultural experiences. In other words, if Chicago doesn’t offer desirable cultural experiences, audiences are likely to go elsewhere. 

About Arts & Economic Prosperity

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 is the most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted in the United States and features a national report along with customized findings for 341 unique study regions, including Chicago. Data collection for the Chicago study was conducted in 2016 by Arts Alliance Illinois and compiled by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. Generous support was provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Download the full Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 report for the city of Chicago.

Download a summary of the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 report for the city of Chicago.

The city of Chicago is one of 341 study regions in the U.S. that participated in Arts & Economic Prosperity 5. These study regions include 113 cities, 115 counties, 81 multicity or multi-county regions, 20 states and 12 individual arts districts -- representing all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. In the city of Chicago, data from 466 eligible nonprofit arts and culture organizations and over 800 surveys of Chicago nonprofit arts and culture audiences were included. The 466 organizations were a representative sample of the sector as a whole.