arts and Economic prosperity

The numbers are in! $198.6 million and counting!

The Office of Arts and Culture spent much of 2016 working with 95 participating Santa Barbara County nonprofits to collect budget data and audience intercept surveys to quantify their economic impact. Partnering with the Americans for the Arts to aggregate the date, the ensuing 2017 Arts and Economic Prosperity® 5 report demonstrated that the 95 participating county organizations supported 5,857 jobs and generated almost $200 million dollars, delivering $19.1 million in local and state government revenue over one fiscal year. Arts and Culture contribute significantly to the success of our local economy.

Event-related spending of $72.2 million was generated by audiences who attended a cultural event and spent associated dollars dining out in local restaurants, paying for parking, buying gifts and souvenirs, and paying for childcare and parking. Plus, attendees from out of town often stayed overnight in a local hotel.

Please note that these numbers only provide a partial snapshot of the economic contribution of arts and culture. The $200 million dollars tallied do not include the tremendous contribution of over 100 additional arts and culture nonprofits that didn't participate in the study, or ANY local for-profit arts entities, such as the film industry, music and event venues, culinary arts and vinology, galleries or individual artists and cultural practitioners, such as musicians, tattoo artists or welders. Arts and Culture account for over 600,000 jobs statewide. The Office of Arts and Culture has conducted this study since its inception and the numbers keep growing.

Per a recent study conducted by the NEA and Center for Cultural Innovation, Santa Barbara ranks 9th out of 367 municipalities across the county in artists per capita.

The County Office of Arts & Culture proudly stewards the Arts & Economic Prosperity report, in concert with Americans for the Arts, to assess the direct financial impact of nonprofit arts and culture sector. Program Coordinator John Ogilvie is available to answer any questions at

Per the Bureau of Economic Analysis, arts and cultural economic activity accounted for 4.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), or $729.6 billion, last year. This is a larger contributor to the GDP than building or construction.

Did you know?

  • In 2014, California's creative economy generated $293.8 billion dollars

  • 1 in 10 jobs in California is part of the Creative Economy

  • Creativity is the top attribute sought in today's CEOs

Download the Arts & Economic Prosperity One-Page Summary

Download the Arts & Economic Prosperity Study

Read the NEA's Creative Economy Report

Read the 2019 Otis Report about California’s Creative Economy. This is a unique and powerful statewide assessment.

What is arts and cultural production?The performing arts – music, dance, drama – probably come to mind first, as well as visual arts and the written word. Although culture can be defined broadly to include things like beliefs and values, these economic accounts focus on creative artistic activity. They're not limited to fine arts, however. The museum category, for example, includes science and children's museums, zoos, and nature parks. Supporting industries include movie making and publishing, as well as aspects of government, including American Indian tribal councils. Other arts and culture industries not represented in these reports include California's farm-to-table movement, with our extraordinary culinary artists, vintners and craft brewers, as well as fashion and graphic designers or architects.

Bureau of Economic Analysis For-Profit California Statewide Employment Metrics

Arts Commission Statement of Support for the Economic Contributions of the NEA, NEH, IMLS and PBS