Cuyahoga County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated more than $533 million in economic activity in 2022, according to a comprehensive study released Thursday.  

This was the first time Cuyahoga was included as part of a national economic impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts. Every five years, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit focused on building “recognition and support” for the arts looks at the economic impact arts and culture have on communities throughout the United States.

Cuyahoga County was among about 375 communities that participated in the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study. The nonprofit Assembly for the Arts, which advocates for increasing resources for the arts in Greater Cleveland, worked with Americans for the Arts in coordinating the local study.

The results of this study affirm what many of us in the arts community already knew: the nonprofit arts and culture sector is an important economic contributor in Cuyahoga County.

Jeremy V. Johnson, Assembly for the Arts president and CEO

The research found that nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Cuyahoga generated $389.8 million in economic activity. Their audiences produced another $143.3 million in “event-related spending,” ranging from playgoers dining before a show to out-of-towners staying at hotels when they came to Cleveland for a concert.

The arts and culture economy supported 8,637 jobs in Cuyahoga, the study found. The economic arts and culture activity created $104.2 million in tax revenue for local, state and federal governments. 

“The results of this study affirm what many of us in the arts community already knew: the nonprofit arts and culture sector is an important economic contributor in Cuyahoga County,” said Jeremy V. Johnson, Assembly’s president and CEO. “More than that, a vibrant arts and culture community keeps residents engaged in their communities and brings people from outside the area to experience the world-class cultural experiences we are so fortunate to have here.”

Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture sector generated $151 billion of economic activity in 2022. It supported 2.6 million jobs and generated $29  billion in tax revenue

The study is based on an economic analysis drawing from government data, including some from the federal Department of Labor and the Department of Commerce. It also includes the survey results of more than 1,000 audience members last year at arts and culture events throughout the county.

Assembly worked with 172 nonprofit organizations, or about 35% of the nonprofit arts and culture organizations in the county. They supplied financial and audience information. A cross section of audiences were surveyed. Assembly intentionally made an effort to include audience members of color.

Other study findings include:

  • 19.9% of those attending arts and culture events in Cuyahoga came from outside the county.
  •  88.4% of survey respondents agreed that the arts event or venue they were attending was “a source of neighborhood pride for the community.” 
  • 86.2% said they would “feel a sense of loss if that activity or venue was no longer available.”

Rhonda K. Brown, Cleveland’s first “arts czar,” puts data behind what most in the arts and culture community already knew. Her official title is senior strategist arts, culture and creative economy for the City of Cleveland.

“The results of this survey affirm that when we talk about how to stimulate economic development in Cleveland, arts and culture must be at the table because of the sheer impact they have on our local economy,” Brown said in a news release.

“It’s equally important to acknowledge the role arts and culture play in fostering community pride all around the city of Cleveland,” Brown said. 

Economics Reporter (she/her)
Olivera, an award-winning journalist, covered labor, employment and workforce issues for several years at The Plain Dealer. She broke the story in 2013 of a food drive held for Walmart workers who made too little to afford Thanksgiving dinner. Olivera has received state and national awards for her coverage, including those from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Olivera believes the sweet spot of high-impact journalism is combining strong storytelling with data analysis.