Contact: Kellye Murphy
Tourism & Marketing Director

Columbia, TN (Aug 31, 2017) - The Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 (AEP5) national economic impact study provides evidence that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a significant industry in the City of Columbia—one that generates $7.7 million in total economic activity. This spending—$1.3 million by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and an additional $6.4 million in event-related spending by their audiences—was reported by seven local organizations.

As a result of attending a cultural event, attendees often eat dinner in local restaurants, pay for parking, buy gifts and souvenirs, and pay a babysitter. What’s more, attendees from out of town often stay overnight in local lodgings. In the City of Columbia, these dollars support 213 full-time equivalent jobs, which generates $3.7 million in household income to local residents and delivers $317,000 in local government taxes and $493,000 in state government taxes. Non-profit organizations in Columbia generated 33.3 percent more in local tax revenue and 41.7 percent more in state tax revenue compared to similar size cities participating in the study.

The City of Columbia Arts Council led local efforts. They collected 534 surveys from audiences attending events at the seven participating local nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, and coordinated financial and program data collection from the organizations.

“We are pleased with the findings of the study and continue to support the arts and culture in Columbia,” stated City of Columbia Mayor Dean Dickey. “Investing in the arts improves the quality of life for our citizens, increases arts-themed events in the city and boosts visitor spending.” The findings of the AEP5 study support the efforts in recent years by the arts community and the City of Columbia to establish an Arts Council and develop an Arts District adjacent to downtown.

The study reported that there were 282,326 nonprofit arts and culture attendees in the City of Columbia in 2015, 81 percent of who were residents. Of the nonresident survey respondents, 69 percent indicated that the primary purpose of their visit to the County was “specifically to attend this arts/cultural event.” Nonresident attendees spent an average of 94 percent more per person than local attendees ($36.92 vs. $19.05) as a result of their attendance to cultural events.

The study shows that arts and culture help retain local dollars: 48 percent of local resident attendees said they would have “traveled to a different community to attend a similar cultural event” if the event was not taking place locally.

"Those who have been involved in the arts in the City of Columbia and the surrounding areas already know how the arts can change lives, but this study confirms the impact the arts has on the economy of our city as well,” said Columbia Arts Council Chairperson Susan Manning.  “It is part of the reason the Arts Council was organized and our Arts District was developed."

The Tennessee Arts Commission worked with 25 local partners and nine development districts to produce a statewide report and customized city, county and regional reports. Data was collected from 642 participating nonprofit organizations across the state and included 14,915 audience participation surveys. The study does not include numbers from individual artists or for-profit arts, music and culture businesses.

“This study demonstrates that nonprofit arts and culture is a significant industry in Tennessee and the City of Columbia—supporting jobs, generating local and state revenue, and driving tourism,” said Anne B. Pope, Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Nationwide, the AEP5 reveals that the nonprofit arts and culture industry produces $166.3 billion in economic activity every year. In addition, it supports 4.6 million full-time equivalent jobs and generates $96.07 billion in household income.

For those seeking a true Southern, Main Street America experience, Columbia is 45 minutes south of Nashville, Tennessee and 75 miles north of Huntsville, Alabama. Here you’ll discover an original downtown with a vibrant Main Street and beautiful town square bordered by the Duck River. And it is home to an American President!  So come on over, you’re welcome here. We hope you’ll be enchanted by our city and feel connected to the stories, experiences and people of Columbia. It's a classic Southern town with a kick!