NEW Economic Activity Study

We learned in 2000 that New Jersey’s non profit arts community generates over $1.5 billion each year. That comes from direct spending by arts institutions on salary, products and services AND the indirect spending of patrons who attend arts events throughout the State. The average spending of patrons outside of the price of admission to an event is $25.94 per person. And we learned that the arts generate about $27 million in tax revenue each year!

These numbers were really handy when state arts funding was proposed to be eliminated in 2003. Legislators listened to the economic value of the arts and passed the NJ Hotel/Motel Occupancy Fee to provide a stable source of funding for arts and history programs and tourism promotion. Since that time, funding has been “somewhat” stable, though not as stable as is necessary to successfully run a business and have the ability to accurately predict government revenue each year.

For the first 2 years, arts support was at the level intended by legislation–$22.68 million. After that it went down to $19.2 million (FY07), then up to $21.9 million (FY08), then for FY09 it was proposed at the MINIMUM allowed by legislation ($16 million). Grassroots cultural advocates became active and told state legislators this was not acceptable and that the arts had significant economic impact on local communities. Stories were told by students, teachers, parents, restauranteurs, hotel owners, police chiefs, mayors and more about how the arts make a difference and art part of the economic solution–not the problem! The result was restoration of state arts funding to $19.25 million. You can see the issue–$22.68 – $19.2 – $21.9 – $16 to $19.25. OMG!!!

The ArtPride NJ Foundation will be conducting a NEW economic activity study to update numbers from 2000. Certainly a lot has changed since then–cultural institutions do business differently than they did pre 9/11. We are looking to collect about 4,000 audience surveys on site at about 25 cultural institutions. If you are interested in volunteering to help with this important project, please contact ArtPride New Jersey at 609-443-3582 or by emailing us at

Stay tuned…we hope to have some preliminary data available by spring 2009!

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