Greater Burlington area nonprofit arts organizations generate $93.5M for economy

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Vermont Business Magazine A recent Americans for the Arts study found that Greater Burlington Area nonprofit arts organizations generated $93.5 million for the local economy in 2022.

On January 17, 2024, at the BCA Center, leaders from the Vermont Arts Council, Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Burlington’s Business, Workforce, and Development department, and Burlington City Arts shared and celebrated the results. The Vermont arts and business organizations were joined by New England Foundation for the Arts Executive Director Harold Steward.

Americans for the Arts released the findings of the Arts and Economic Prosperity study (AEP6) in late 2023. The study documents the economic and social benefits of the nation’s nonprofit arts and culture industry. Burlington City Arts joined the study on behalf of the Greater Burlington Area.

The $93.5 million in economic activity in 2022 supported 1,321 jobs, provided $55.8 million in personal income to residents, and generated $16.8 million in tax revenue to local, state, and federal governments.

Statewide, arts and culture—including for-profit organizations—contributed nearly $1.1 billion to the Vermont economy in 2021, ranking a close third behind retail and construction, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Arts and culture represents 3% of Vermont’s overall economy and accounts for over 10,000 jobs.

“Arts and culture supports jobs, generates revenue for local businesses, and provides cultural experiences that strengthen tourism. Our state’s reputation for creativity and innovation is a vital part of the Vermont ‘brand,’ and the AEP6 results reinforce that,” said Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Susan Evans McClure.

Statewide, according to a 2016 Arts and Economic Prosperity survey, 24.8% of attendees to arts and cultural events are nonlocal visitors who travel from beyond Vermont. 79.4% of nonlocal attendees reported that their visit was specifically intended to attend the performance, event, exhibition, or venue. Nonlocal attendees spent an average of $51.69 each, beyond the price of admission to the event. Locals spent an average of $34.53 per-person, on top of admission.

In the Greater Burlington Area in 2022, 30.4% of nonprofit arts and cultural event attendees reported being nonlocal visitors who traveled from outside Chittenden County. 66.2% of nonlocal attendees reported that the primary purpose of their visit was specifically to attend the performance, event, exhibit, or venue.

The AEP6 study shows that the arts and culture sector drives commerce to local businesses.

“The creative economy in Vermont employs thousands and entertains thousands more,” said Vermont Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein. “Economic Development is about creating vibrant communities for residents and tourists to visit and enjoy. The arts sector is part of what makes Burlington a statewide hub which is why the state of Vermont supports the arts and the Vermont Arts Council.”

In the Greater Burlington Area, attendees spend $43.46 per person per event in 2022, beyond the cost of admission. Nonlocal attendees spent an average of $77.80 at nonprofit arts and culture events, while local attendees spent an average of $28.46. The nonlocal average ranks significantly higher than the national nonlocal spending average of $60.57, while the local average is on par with the national trend, $29.77. These dollars represent vital income for local merchants and a value-add with which few industries can compete.

“It is impressive to see the economic impact of the arts on our local economy and the businesses that help fuel it,” said Burlington Business and Workforce Development Director Kara Alnasrawi. “This data confirms the importance of the creative economy to our overall economy and the health of our downtown.”

The study also shows that arts and culture organizations contribute to community pride in the Greater Burlington Area.

  • 88% of arts and culture attendees agree that the activity or venue where they were surveyed “is inspiring a sense of pride in this neighborhood or community.”
  • 83.9% agree that “I would feel a great sense of loss if this activity or venue were no longer available.”
  • 80.3% agree that the venue or facility where they were surveyed is “an important pillar for me within my community.”

“BCA has known for a long time that the arts significantly strengthen our community’s economic and social foundations,” said Burlington City Arts Executive Director Doreen Kraft. “Studies such as the AEP6 survey help us quantify this impact with hard data. These metrics boost our influence exponentially through key business sector collaborations, bolster our fundraising and grant application efforts, and help us measure the economic vitality of the arts as we continue connecting more artists to more opportunities locally and statewide.”

The AEP6 study sends a strong signal that in the aftermath of the pandemic, the nonprofit arts and culture is a formidable industry. The study demonstrates that when regions invest in the arts, they are investing in Greater Burlington’s economic and community well-being.

AEP6 is the largest and most inclusive study of its kind. The AEP6 study was conducted in 373 diverse communities and regions across the country, representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico. For additional information including the national report, summaries for the 373 communities, an online calculator, and a description of the project methodology, visit

About Burlington City Arts
Burlington City Arts is dedicated to connecting community to the arts through creation, experimentation, and education in all forms of contemporary art. BCA offers exhibitions, special events, classes, workshops, and many other activities in Burlington.

Source: 1.17.2024. Burlington City Arts Vermont Business Magazine