How the Arts Grow Communities

By Victoria Shaw, Marketing Consultant

When thinking of community growth, arts organizations may not immediately come to mind. Yet, communities looking to improve economic prosperity, public engagement, and overall community health may actually find their answer in local arts organizations.


Artist painting.jpg

$15.7 million

Arts revenue for local governments in the Indy area. 

The Arts Bring Economic Investment

Americans for the Arts, an advocacy group, reports annual research about the financial impact from the arts for each state. In 2010, research shows that for the greater Indianapolis area, revenues from arts organizations and audiences generated $26.5 million for state government and $15.7 million for local governments. Arts organizations hired the full-time equivalent (FTE) to 13,136 jobs. The arts don’t just support the existing community by bringing jobs, but they promote economic investment in cities. An estimated 44.8% of audiences who attended these events were not residents of the greater Indianapolis area. Meaning that the arts benefit locals with jobs because of driving an increase in traffic, a fringe benefit being that often times other businesses see an increase in traffic as well.


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Public Arts 

drive community engagement.

The Arts Drive Public Engagement

Visual arts in particular are essential for driving public engagement. Parks, trails, walkways, canals and other common gathering areas provide residents the chance to meet other neighbors. Driving engagement between residents is essential for towns and cities as it increases the length of residency. While 80% of the success of a property boils down to general management, the remaining success can be derived from factors such as the general aesthetic appeal and local activities held in the space. If you’re looking for ideas, check out this article from the Project for Public Spaces to see how festivals, architecture, and preservation practices have impacted cities across America.


Art promotes community health.jpg

Health and the Arts

go hand-in-hand.

The Arts Improve Community Health Indicators

Research done in New York City compared the health of different boroughs and correlated them to the number of non-profits, venues, galleries, museums, and other indicators of an arts presence. Even after controlling for differences in demographics, communities with more cultural resources saw the following when compared to boroughs with less resources:

  • 14% decrease in cases of child abuse and neglect
  • 5% decrease in obesity
  • 8% increase in kids scoring in the top stratum on English and math exams
  • 18% decrease in the serious crime rate

These statistics show that the arts not only have a place in our towns but can propel positive change for future growth. Arts organizations are essential for thriving communities.


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300% Increase

in visitors over the last five years at the Wabash County Historical Museum.

While many towns may already have arts organizations, some are not positioned to maintain exponential growth. The Wabash County Historical Museum saw an increase of 300% for visitors in the last five years. However, because their facility was rapidly aging their services were under threat of being cut. To learn how the Museum was able to continue growth in their community schools while improving their facilities check out their story here. By taking action and encouraging arts organizations to flourish, communities can see growth in their engagement and prosperity for years to come.

Victoria Shaw is a marketing consultant for businesses throughout Central Indiana and has worked with several small businesses and arts organizations to improve overall performance level. A 2017 graduate of Anderson University, she will be pursuing a Master of Science in International Management this fall in Italy. 

She has been a part of Prosperity Ag since 2015.