Waitress. Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman. Waitress. Photy by Joan Marcus.

CBCA: Metro arts are a $1.9 billion annual economic engine

Waitress. Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman. Waitress. Photy by Joan Marcus.

Broadway shows such as ‘Waitress’ helped the DCPA to draw 418,000 to its Broadway touring shows in 2016-17. Pictured: Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman. Waitress. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Biennial report shows increases in every measurable area from education programs to attendance to arts employment

Every two years, the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts takes straight aim at the lingering fallacy that arts and culture are an unessential entitlement or costly subsidy.

They are, in fact, an economic engine. And every two years, the CBCA produces new numbers that prove it.

Puppet Disability Workshop. Photo by John Moore.

Last month, DCPA Education hosted a workshop on exploring disability through puppeteering. In 2016-17, the DCPA engaged 106,000 students. Photo by John Moore.

Nonprofit arts and culture activity in the seven-country metro area reached a record $1.9 billion in 2017, according to the latest data, released today. That’s an 8-percent increase since 2015. Further, arts and culture was responsible for pumping $57 million in “new money” into the regional economy, a 12-percent increase. That figure includes tourists coming to town specifically to attend an exhibit or blockbuster Broadway show, as well as tourists deciding to stay for an extra day to further explore other museums and galleries.

The rippling economic impact from the arts is no different from that of a political convention or a sports tournament. Visitors (and residents) spend money on more than just the cost of a ticket. The CBCA report says that on average, every cultural participant spends an average of $22.50 more than the cost of a ticket per arts experience.

Among the other highlights from the report:

  • There was a 40 percent increase in capital spending between 2015 and ’17.
  • Employment in the arts reached an all-time high of 11,820 full-time, part-time and contract jobs in the non-profit cultural sector (up 10 percent), accounting for $183.4 million in wages (up 11 percent).
  • Giving from individuals, corporations and foundations reached $182.6 million (up 3.3 percent).
  • Attendance reached $15 million people (up 8.5 percent).
  • Education programs reached 4.3 million schoolchildren (up 8.5 percent), while cultural classes attracted 683,545 adult and youth students. That’s a 35 percent increase over 2017, which officials attribute to both expanded programming and an influx of new metro families.

All of the above figures represent all-time highs in the history of the CBCA study, which dates back to 1992.

In its most recent annual report, covering the 2016-17 fiscal year, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts reported an overall engagement with 1.2 million individuals, including issuing 609,000 tickets, serving 106,000 students and providing 622 jobs.

“The Denver Center has always championed the vital importance of the arts to the lifeblood of a healthy society,” said DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden. “We are proud to play our important part in making the overall findings of this study a reality, and are grateful to the CBCA for their hard work in getting this important message in front of the citizens of Colorado. The arts are certainly a shared value in Colorado, which ranks No. 1 in the country in the percentage of adults who perform, attend or create artwork. And the creative industries are the fifth-largest employment sector in in Colorado.

“The arts allow an organization or a person to do something that otherwise would be impossible.”

The CBCA study is based on self-reported data from the roughly 300 nonprofit arts organizations that comprise the Denver-metro area’s voter-approved Scientific & Cultural Facilities District, which collects one penny for every $10 spent in sales tax. The SCFD, which turned 30 in 2018, distributed a record $56.7 million to nonprofit arts and culture organizations in 2017.

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter