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Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 Study Centers Equity in Economic Research and Highlights Vital Role of Arts and Culture in Building More Livable Communities

Fort Myers, FL, (December 13, 2023) – Alliance for the Arts announced today that Lee County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated over $135 million in economic activity in 2022, according to the newly released Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), an economic and social impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts. That economic activity–$61.6 million in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and $73.8 million in event-related spending by their audiences supported 2,516 jobs and generated $52 million in local, state, and federal government revenue. Spending by arts and culture audiences generates valuable commerce to local merchants, a value-add that few other industries can compete with. In Fort Myers, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $98.7 million in economic activity supporting 1,932 jobs and resulting in $17.3 million in tax revenue.

Building on its 30-year legacy as the largest and most inclusive study of its kind, AEP6 uses a rigorous methodology to document the economic and social contributions of the nation’s nonprofit arts and culture industry. The study demonstrates locally as well as nationally, arts and culture are a critical economic driver of vibrant communities.

“The AEP6 study powerfully underscores the indispensable role of arts and culture in Lee County and the City of Fort Myers,” said AFTA Executive Director Molly Rowan-Deckart. “Not only do they fuel economic growth and job creation, but they also serve as a vibrant social catalyst, nurturing connections, empathy, and a sense of identity. Arts and culture are the heartbeat of our community, enriching lives and stimulating prosperity. In short, the arts mean business.”

Key figures from Lee County’s AEP6 study include:

  • Lee County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $73.8 million in event-related spending by its audiences.
  • The typical attendee spends $40 per person per event, not including the cost of admission.
  • 23% of arts and culture attendees were from outside the county in which the activity took place. They spent an average of $58. All vital income for local merchants.
  • 87% of respondents agreed that the activity or venue they were attending was “a source of neighborhood pride for the community.” 
  • 86% said they would “feel a sense of loss if that activity or venue was no longer available.”

Nationally, the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study reveals that America’s nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $151.7 billion industry—one that supports 2.6 million jobs and generates $29.1 billion in government revenue.”

“Arts and culture organizations have a powerful ability to attract and hold dollars in the community longer. They employ people locally, purchase goods and services from nearby businesses, and produce the authentic cultural experiences that are magnets for visitors, tourists, and new residents,” said Nolen V. Bivens, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “When we invest in nonprofit arts and culture, we strengthen our economy and build more livable communities.”

The full report, a map of the 373 study regions, and a two-page economic impact summary for each can be found at

About Alliance for the Arts – The Alliance for the Arts (AFTA) is a nonprofit community visual and performing arts center located in the heart of Fort Myers, Florida. Since 1975, the Alliance has been committed to transforming lives and improving community through the arts. The Alliance campus and galleries are open to the public from 9am to 7pm Tuesday through Friday, and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. AFTA is located at 10091 McGregor Boulevard just south of Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers. For more information, please call 239-939-2787, visit us at, or find us on Facebook and Instagram.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 study was conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. It was supported by The Ruth Lilly Endowment Fund of Americans for the Arts. Americans for the Arts’ 297 study partners contributed both time and financial support to the study. For a full list of the communities who participated in the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 study, visit more information, follow us @Americans4Arts.

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