Report: Arts generate more than $500M in economic activity in Indianapolis

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IRT Clue
Beethoven Oden and Emily Berman were cast members in a 2023 production of “Clue” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, one of 96 Indianapolis not-for-profit arts and culture organizations included in the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 report. (Zach Rosing photo provided by the IRT)

Despite the context of the pandemic, the not-for-profit arts and culture industry in Indianapolis generated a larger economic impact during fiscal year 2022 than in fiscal year 2016, according to a new report.

In the newly released “The Arts & Economic Prosperity 6,” a national study by advocacy organization Americans for the Arts, Indianapolis-based not-for-profit arts groups and their audiences are responsible for $523.8 million in annual economic impact.

The fifth edition of the report, published in 2017, listed $440.5 million as the annual economic impact locally, and the fourth edition listed $384 million when it was published in 2012.

“After a global pandemic, it’s incredibly positive and encouraging,” said Indy Arts Council CEO Julie Goodman. “It affirms what those of us who are in this all day, every day already know: We’re experiencing significant growth in our sector.”

The upward trend in Indianapolis represents a contrast to the national overall number published in the report. The sixth edition of “Arts & Economic Prosperity” lists $151.7 billion of economic activity for the U.S. not-for-profit arts and culture industry, a dip from $166.3 billion listed in 2017.

Americans for the Arts cited the pandemic in the national decrease: “The pandemic had a devastating impact on the arts sector. According to national survey work by Americans for the Arts, 99% of producing and presenting arts and culture organizations canceled events during the pandemic—representing the loss of an estimated 557 million ticketed admissions.”

The report itself was postponed 16 months because of the pandemic.

More than 370 cities and regional areas participated in the study. In addition to Indianapolis, Indiana participants were Carmel and regions defined as Greater Fort Wayne Area and Arts Campus Fort Wayne.

In Carmel, the not-for-profit arts and culture industry generated $42.7 million in economic activity. The number includes $17 million in spending by organizations and $25.7 million in event-related spending by audiences. The industry supports 981 full-time equivalent jobs in Carmel.

“The results from this survey show the importance of investing in our local arts and how that positively impacts our hotels, restaurants and shops,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said in a written statement.

In Indianapolis, the $523.8 million in economic activity was made up of $286.1 million generated by not-for-profit organizations and $237.7 million by audiences.

The arts and culture industry supports 7,478 full-time equivalent jobs in Indianapolis and generates more than $87 million in local and state government revenue.

Goodman said the statistics make a case that the arts should be discussed as a major economic driver in the city.

“It’s pretty compelling evidence of the value of the return on the investment,” she said.

From the city’s annual budget and an investment by the Marion County Capital Improvement Board, Indy Arts Council administers a $1.5 million annual grants program.

“Around 2015, we were supporting 45 organizations in the annual grants program,” Goodman said. “This year, we’re supporting 85.”

In Indianapolis, 96 of 134 eligible not-for-profit organizations identified by Indy Arts Council provided financial and attendance information required for the study analysis—an overall participation rate of 71.6%.

“This is not an easy study to implement,” Goodman said. “I think we need to acknowledge that spirit in Indianapolis and the level of collaboration and cooperation we’re seeing.”

For the first time in the 30-year history of “Arts & Prosperity,” the report included the expectation that research partners would collect a portion of audience surveys at events presented, produced or hosted by Black, Indigenous and people of color organizations.

In Indianapolis, 972 surveys were collected from attendees at performances, events, exhibits and special events.

The study was funded by the study partners and the Americans for the Arts Ruth Lilly Endowment Fund.

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One thought on “Report: Arts generate more than $500M in economic activity in Indianapolis

  1. The article does not adjust for inflation the economic impact of the Indianapolis arts in 2012 or 2017 when comparing last year’s impact. When adjusted for inflation, the 2012 impact of the arts on our economy translates to $489.5 million, and for 2017 it would be $526 million. The result is that last year’s impact was about a million shy of 2017, but $34 million more than in 2012.

    Still the arts community in Indianapolis is to be commended not just for the economic impact of its contribution to our city, but for entertaining us in so many ways and so many venues. While we may be a sports town, we also loved the arts. Bravo!

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