Press Release: Arts & Economic Impact



For immediate release

ArtsMemphis to Announce Findings from Major Nationwide Study on the Economic Impact of the Arts

MEMPHIS, TN  (August 25, 2017) – ArtsMemphis will host a press conference on Thursday, Aug. 31st at 10:00am, at Crosstown Concourse, to announce the local findings from a nationwide study called Arts and Economic Prosperity V ("AEP5").  The AEP5 was a yearlong data-collection effort, launched by Americans for the Arts, to quantify the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture.  The Tennessee Arts Commission provided statewide oversight for the study, and ArtsMemphis served as the Commission’s primary partner in West Tennessee.  Overall, the project involved 14,439 arts organizations across the country, including more than 600 in Tennessee alone.  The announcement on August 31st will make public the study results as they relate specifically to Shelby County.

While ArtsMemphis is keeping tight-lipped about the Shelby County findings until August 31st, the published data on national trends includes some impressive statistics.  For example, nationwide, nonprofit arts patrons spent $102.5 billion during 2015.  And not just on tickets – but also on parking, pre-event dining and shopping, babysitting, and other activities with a direct connection to their attendance at arts events.  In 2015, this spending supported 2.3 million jobs, provided $46.6 billion in household income, and generated $15.7 billion in total government revenue.

“This is a great example of what we mean when we talk about ‘Powering Authentic Assets’ in our community,” said ArtsMemphis President & CEO Elizabeth Rouse.  “The arts really are an authentic asset – not only for our quality of life, but for our economy.”

In fact, the AEP5 results indicate that when you factor in spending by arts organizations (in addition to audience members), the arts industry supports 4.6 million jobs and generates
$27.5 billion in government revenue.  That latter number represents a 550% return on nationwide public investment in the arts, which totaled just $5 billion in 2015.

According to Ritche Manley Bowden, Chair of the Tennessee Arts Commission, the statewide findings are equally remarkable.  "The AEP5 shows that the nonprofit arts is a $1.17 billion industry in the State of Tennessee,” Bowden said, “supporting the equivalent of more than 38,000 full-time jobs.”

Among those who have seen a preview of the Shelby County study results is Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.  "The arts represent a key part of our city's identity,” said Strickland, “from our award-winning film festivals to our world-class performing arts groups and our one-of-a-kind museums.  The AEP5 results prove that all these things are major drivers for the local economy."

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell was similarly enthusiastic: "This study reinforces the value of Shelby County's cultural assets.  They have a clear and measurable impact on the success of local businesses."

All are welcome to attend the announcement of the AEP5 results on Thurs., August 31st at 10:00am, in the East Atrium of Crosstown Concourse (1350 Concourse Ave.), in front of the Big Red Staircase near Farm Burger.  Speakers at the event will include:

  • Ritche Manley Bowden, Chair of the Tennessee Arts Commission
  • Anne Pope, Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission
  • Lucy Lee, Board Chair of ArtsMemphis
  • Elizabeth Rouse, President & CEO of ArtsMemphis
  • Phil Trenary, President & CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce

In addition to the speakers, several other individuals with compelling perspectives on the arts and the local economy will be available for interviews with the press.  That list includes:

  • Todd Richardson, Managing Director of Crosstown Concourse
  • Milton Lovell, CFO & General Counsel of nexAir
  • Kevin Kane, President & CEO of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Octavia Young, Founder of Midtown Crossing Grill
  • Philipp and Cru Peri von Holtzendorff-Fehling, Co-Founders of Mama Gaia
  • Jenny Koltnow, Director of Communications & Community Relations at AutoZone
  • William Murray, Director of Development & Communications at ArtsMemphis
  • Plus dozens of representatives from local arts groups

About ArtsMemphis:

For more than 50 years, ArtsMemphis has been sustaining Memphis's world-renowned cultural vitality.  ArtsMemphis achieves this mission by amplifying awareness, driving support, and building capacity for artists and organizations through grants and services.  In 2017, ArtsMemphis awarded nearly $2.5 million in grants to 72 different organizations and 8 individual artists.  For more information, visit

For inquiries or additional information, please contact William Murray, Director of Development and Communications for ArtsMemphis, at 901-341-0401 or [email protected]


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