Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6)

Boulder’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $115.1 million in economic activity and 2,451 jobs annually according to Americans for the Arts

The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $115.1 million in annual economic activity in Boulder, Colorado – supporting 2,451 jobs and generating $21.9 million in local, state, and federal government revenues, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 national economic impact study. Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) was conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading industry group committed to advancing the arts and arts education. 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 that arts and culture are a critical economic driver of vibrant communities locally as well as nationally.

Nationwide, the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 study reveals that the nonprofit arts industry produces $151.7 billion in economic activity every year, resulting in $29.1 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues (a yield well beyond their collective $5.49 billion spent in arts funding), 2.6 million jobs and $101 billion in personal income. Visit the Americans for the Arts website for national data.

Economic Impact

  • The nonprofit arts and culture sector is an over $115 million dollar ($115.1 million) industry in Boulder, over four times that for other cities our size.
  • Boulder’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations spent a remarkable $53.5 million in 2022. The spending is far reaching: organizations pay administrators, artists, and curators, purchase supplies, contract for services, and acquire assets within our community. These actions, in turn, support jobs, generate household income, and revenue for local and state governments.
  • Excluding the price of admission, event-related spending by attendees totaled $61.6 million, over double that for other cities our size.
  • Direct spending, audience spending, and the arts workforce in Boulder generated $21.9 million in local, state, and federal government revenues, with more than $4 million of that returned to city and county coffers.


  • The arts industry in Boulder supports 2,451 jobs, versus a median of 593 in other cities our size.
  • The nonprofits sustained 1,711 jobs, and $51.6 million in household income for local residents.
  • Audience spending supports a further 740 jobs in the community.
  • In addition, during 2022, a total of 4,333 volunteers donated a total of 152,746 hours to the nonprofit arts and cultural organizations that participated in the study about Boulder. This represents a donation of time with an estimated aggregate value of $5.2 million. In-kind contributions showed an aggregate estimated value of over $1.9 million. Together, these donations of time and energy demonstrate a deep engagement with the city’s arts and culture.

Cultural Tourism

  • People attending cultural events spend an average of $33.28 per person, not including the cost of admission. For example, they may pay for parking or bus fare, eat dinner at a restaurant, shop nearby, or pay a babysitter. Out-of-town visitors spend event more, averaging $46.97 per event which typically includes a hotel stay. Our community attracts ‘cultural tourists’ (non-resident attendees), which harnesses significant economic rewards.
  • 87.9% of nonlocal, cultural tourists report that the primary reason for their trip to was “specifically to attend the performance, event, exhibit, venue, or facility”. Clearly, the arts are a powerful attraction that brings out of town audiences—and their discretionary spending—to our community.
  • 55% of cultural tourists report if the event where they were surveyed had not occurred, they would have traveled to a different community in order to attend a similar cultural experience.
  • The points on cultural tourism are all to say: if Boulder fails to invest in a variety of artistic and cultural experiences, not only will we fail to attract cultural tourists, but we will also lose the interest and income from our own residents.

Social Impact

AEP6 demonstrated the importance of the arts in other ways as well: arts and culture programming builds more livable communities, improves personal well-being, and builds empathy and understanding. The researched demonstrated that, nationally:

  • 86% of Americans say that arts and culture are important to their community’s quality of life and livability,”
  • 78% of the population say the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world,”
  • 72% of Americans believe, “The arts provide shared experiences with people of different races, ethnicities, ages, beliefs, and identities (gender, political, national origin),”
  • and 73% agree that the arts “helps me understand other cultures better.”

AEP6 also demonstrated the social impact of the arts in Boulder and the important role they play in supporting the well-being of Boulders residents and guests. Attendees to events stated that:

  • 87% agree that “This activity or venue is inspiring a sense of pride in this neighborhood or community.”
  • 85% agree that “I would feel a great sense of loss if this activity or venue were no longer available.”
  • 82% agree that “My attendance is my way of ensuring that this activity or venue is preserved for future generations.”
  • and 78% agree that “This venue or facility is an important pillar for me within my community.”

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

The City of Boulder’s Office of Arts and Culture is currently implementing Boulder’s Community Cultural Plan. Through a set of programs including cultural grants, public art, initiatives that support artists and the creative economy, and research, the office supports the community-created Vision for Culture: Together, we will craft Boulder’s social, physical, and cultural environment to include creativity as an essential ingredient for the wellbeing, prosperity, and joy of everyone in the community.


Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) is the sixth economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in the U.S. The study is conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading industry group committed to advancing the arts and arts education. It is the largest and most inclusive study of its kind ever conducted, with a specific focus on 387 participating communities from across all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. The study is conducted approximately every five years to gauge the economic impact (on employment, government revenue, and household income) of spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and the event-related spending by their audiences. Previous studies were published in 1994, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017. (Due to the unique nature of the realities of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the AEP6 study was postponed for 16 months.)

While the arts have the potential to impact many aspects of our community, the truth is they also have a power all on their own. The arts are an open invitation to engage in our history, our heritage, our politics, the way we learn—in short, the arts are part of our daily lives, and play a role in all aspects of the human experience. Economic impact studies such as these will expand the conversation about how many people view the arts. While most appreciate the cultural benefit provided to our community, few realize that our local arts industry supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is a cornerstone of tourism.

Our local nonprofit arts and culture organizations have been and will continue to be critical to our economic recovery. While part of a national study, our reports will be based on spending by our own local nonprofit arts and culture organizations as well as the event-related spending by their audiences (at local retail, parking, and restaurant establishments). The results of this research will be used to understand the conditions of the nonprofit arts sector, to track progress on the Community Cultural Plan, for lawmakers to best understand the importance of the arts, for nonprofit leadership to better know the outcomes of their missions, and for arts advocates to best tell the story of the importance of the arts.

Our Role

Thank you to all of our nonprofit organizations and volunteers who helped with data collection!

For any questions about the City of Boulder’s participation, please contact Arts Program Manager Lauren Click at or 720-564-2355.

Photo credits:

Butterfly Lovers Concerto, Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Professional Company with The Boulder Philharmonic. Photo by Scott Redheffer.

Play Your Part, Change the World! mural by George F. Baker III on eTown Hall, 1535 Spruce St. Installed by Street Wise Boulder. Photo by Peter Kowalchuk.

Boulder Opera Company, Opera in the Park at the Boulder Bandshell. Photo by Alexi Molden.

A child pressing on one of artist Claire Ashley’s “Squishies,” while attendees watch the interactive performance at the opening reception for Claire Ashley: Plump, Pucker, Squish, part of Boulder Museum of Contemporary Arts’s Present Box exhibition series.