October 12, 2023
Contact: Jackie Ferlito, [email protected]

Groundbreaking Study Reveals Economic and Social Impact of $13.5 million Nonprofit Arts and Culture Sector in Waterville

WATERVILLE, Maine ­–Waterville Creates today announced that the City of Waterville’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $13.5 million in economic activity in 2022, according to the newly released Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), an economic and social impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts. That economic activity—$9.7 million in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and $3.9 million in event-related spending by their audiences—supported 174 jobs and generated $2.4 million in local, state, and federal government revenue. Spending by arts and culture audiences generates valuable commerce to local merchants, a value-add that few other industries can claim.

Building on its 30-year legacy as the largest and most inclusive study of its kind, AEP6 uses a rigorous methodology to document the economic and social contributions of the nation’s nonprofit arts and culture industry. The study demonstrates arts and culture are a critical economic driver of vibrant communities, both locally and nationally.

“We have always known that arts and cultural activities not only enrich and enliven our community but also generate significant economic activity. When the film festival is happening or there is a sold-out show at the Opera House, the restaurants are packed, hotel rooms are filled, and Main Street is alive,” said Shannon Haines, president + CEO of Waterville Creates. “This study quantifies that activity in a way that demonstrates the undeniable impact of the arts as an economic driver in downtown Waterville’s revitalization efforts.”

Nationally, the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study reveals the American nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $151.7 billion industry—one that supports 2.6 million jobs and generates $29.1 billion in government revenue.

“Arts and culture organizations have a powerful ability to attract and hold dollars in the community longer. 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,” said Nolen V. Bivens, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “When we invest in nonprofit arts and culture, we strengthen our economy and build more livable communities.”

Key figures from Waterville’s AEP6 study include:

·       The typical attendee spends $37.62 per person per event, not including the cost of admission.

·       42.7% of arts and culture attendees in Waterville were from outside Kennebec County. They spent an average of $53.60.

·       88% of respondents agreed that the activity or venue they were attending was “a source of neighborhood pride for the community.”

·       87% said they would “feel a sense of loss if that activity or venue was no longer available.”

As Americans for the Arts’ research partner for the City of Waterville, Waterville Creates was responsible for local implementation and data collection. Waterville Creates’ local partners in AEP6 data collection included the Colby College Museum of Art, Colby Arts Office, Children’s Discovery Museum, and the Waterville Public Library.

“As Waterville continues to make significant investments in arts and culture, this data is crucial to us in demonstrating to our community and our funders the remarkable return on those investments,” said Haines. “Since opening the doors of our home at the Paul J. Schupf Art Center in December 2022, we have welcomed more than 80,000 visitors, which—based on this data—represents over $3 million in related spending by our patrons.”

About Waterville Creates

The mission of Waterville Creates is arts experiences for all. Offering diverse programming for all ages, Waterville Creates is building a thriving, connected, and equitable community through shared experiences in the arts. For more information about Waterville Creates, visit watervillecreates.org.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 study was conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. It was supported by The Ruth Lilly Endowment Fund of Americans for the Arts. Americans for the Arts’ 297 study partners contributed both time and financial support to the study. For a full list of the communities who participated in the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 study, visit AEP6.AmericansForTheArts.org.