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New figures look at economic oomph of arts across Fairfax County

Arts/entertainment sector continues to rebound from COVID era

ArtsFairfax officials announced Jan. 10 that Fairfax County’s nonprofit arts-and-culture industry generated $260.3 million in economic activity in fiscal year 2022, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), a study conducted by Americans for the Arts.

That economic activity – $180.2 million in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and $80.1 million in event-related spending by their audiences – supported 3,070 jobs and generated $43.7 million in local, state and federal revenue, the study read.

As the research partner for Fairfax County, ArtsFairfax collected expenditure data from 70 local nonprofit arts-and-culture groups and 924 anonymous audience surveys, 209 of which were collected at events presented, produced or hosted by organizations that serve minority communities. The economic data reflected in this study do not include information from for-profit venues, area museums and historical-heritage sites, officials said.

According to the study:

• The average arts attendee spent an additional $22.17 per person per event, not including the cost of admission or participation fees.

• Thirty-nine percent of arts-and-culture attendees were non-local visitors who traveled from outside Fairfax County to attend events, contributing $31.2 million to local businesses.

• Of non-local audiences at minority-community arts activities, 64.5 percent indicated it was their first time at the activity or venue, as opposed to an average of 47.4 percent of all non-local arts audiences.

“Arts and entertainment was the second-hardest-hit industry during the pandemic, behind hospitality,” said Linda Sullivan, ArtsFairfax president and CEO. “This study demonstrates that arts nonprofits were resilient moving forward into 2023 and remain important to our continued recovery to strengthen the economy, drive cultural tourism and inspire community pride.”

“Arts-and-culture organizations have a powerful ability to attract and hold dollars in the community longer,” added Nolen Bivens, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “They employ people locally, purchase goods and services from nearby businesses, and produce the authentic cultural experiences that are magnets for visitors, tourists and new residents.”