Ann Sheffer (L) with Lynda Keeler (R), artist of mural titled “Indian Canyons Roadmap”

The newly released Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) report, organized by Americans for the Arts, is an economic and social impact study of the nation’s nonprofit arts and culture industry, with a 30-year legacy as the largest and most inclusive study of its kind.

Three Inland Empire arts councils participated in the 2023 AEP6 study, including the California Desert Arts Council (CDAC), Riverside Arts Council, and Arts Connection Network. Funding for their participation in the AEP6 report was made possible by a gift from IECF’s Fund for a Creative IE, which was founded, seeded, and chaired by arts advocate and former IECF board member Ann Sheffer.

Across the nation, vibrant nonprofit arts organizations are transforming their communities. In Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, we’re fortunate to have access to a wide variety of museums, performance centers, exhibitions and free-standing art installations, all run by local nonprofit organizations. These nonprofits and the artists behind them beautify spaces, ignite creativity, celebrate diversity, and simply bring joy. But their mission goes beyond entertainment – they believe everyone deserves access to these enriching experiences. Like all nonprofits, they depend upon funding from private and public sources to ensure that everyone – from schoolchildren to seniors – can learn from and appreciate the arts in all forms.

Unfortunately, many leaders struggle to prioritize funding for the arts. Tight budgets and pressing community issues make for stiff competition. This is where the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) report reveals a powerful truth: investing in the arts strengthens economies and builds thriving communities.

Findings from the report reveal that the nonprofit arts and culture industry is a critical economic driver in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties —a growth industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and builds community vibrancy. This compelling information can empower leaders to unlock resources and craft policies that nurture thriving, inclusive communities. “The report demonstrates that the arts are not just an amenity,” says Kristen Dolan, executive director of CDAC. “They are a key contributor to the economy and a sector worthy of public and private investment.”

The three regional arts councils recently held events to reveal AEP6 findings on how arts and culture plays a significant role in economic development, job creation, and revenue. Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research from Americans for the Arts, was a guest speaker at each event. Below, we share snippets of the findings. We invite you to contact each of the councils directly to learn more about how the arts are impacting your community.

AEP6 Event | Riverside

In 2022, nonprofit arts & culture organizations generated $185 million in economic activity for Riverside County, and $26.2 million specifically in the City of Riverside.

In the county, 2,788 nonprofit arts & culture organizations create jobs spanning various industries. In the city alone, 467 organizations contribute to employment opportunities.

In 2022, nonprofit arts & culture organizations generated $53.4 million in economic activity in the county.

799 jobs were supported by San Bernardino County nonprofit arts and culture organizations, economic activity and event-related spending.

In 2022, nonprofit arts & culture organizations generated $57.6 million in personal income for Coachella Valley residents.

Out-of-town visitors spent $156.94 per person (including dining and shopping) in addition to the admission cost of each performance, exhibition, or other event presented by Coachella Valley nonprofit arts and culture organizations.

Did you know: In the IE, there are more than 250 arts organizations and many of them operate on budgets of $50,000 or less! Because there is no central voice advocating for the importance of the arts, the level of support from government and private funds is much less than throughout the rest of the state. IECF’s Fund for a Creative IE aims to support arts organizations and help raise the financial resources they need. You can be a part of this effort and see a real return on your investment through increasing prosperity in our region. Learn more here, and easily donate online here.

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