The Arts mean big business in Huntsville-Madison County

single-meta-cal June 27, 2017

A weekend arts festival. A Monday evening concert in the park. A Sunday theatre matinee. A new sculpture on campus.  Wherever you turn, there are the Arts.

If you are a regular attendee or participant in Huntsville/Madison County’s growing and thriving arts community, we probably don’t have to tell you the impact the arts have on our community and in residents’ lives every day. But, for the numbers guys and gals, the “show me the money” analytically-minded, we have some facts and stats to feed your data-driven brain.

For the first time since 1997, we have data showing the economic impact of the nonprofit arts industry in Huntsville/Madison County.

Before we get to the numbers, here’s a little background:  In 2015, Arts Huntsville joined the nationwide Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study, conducted by Americans for the Arts, to determine the economic impact of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences nationwide and right here in Huntsville/Madison County. We were one of 341 arts regions participating in the study and the only city in Alabama to do so.

Throughout 2015-16, 34 local nonprofit arts and cultural organizations provided organizational data as well as conducted 1,200 attendee surveys about spending surrounding their arts event attendance.

What did they find?

The nonprofit arts industry…

…is an $89.9 million industry in the City of Huntsville/Madison County.

…generates $6.6 million in local and state government revenue.

  • Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations spent $53.8 million during 2015, leveraging a remarkable $36.1 million in additional spending by their audiences. Spending that pumped vital revenue into restaurants, hotels, retail stores, parking garages, and other local businesses.
  • 1.5 million people attended arts & cultural events in Huntsville/Madison County, with 20% of those audiences coming from outside of Madison County. Plus, more than 75% of those audiences traveled into town specifically for these arts and cultural events!
  • On average those 1.5 million attendees spent $24 dollars per person in event-related spending. That’s in addition to the ticket price for those events.

For more perspective, these numbers don’t even take into consideration the economic impact of for-profit artists, galleries, dance studios, conservatories, art classes, and private arts organizations like Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment!

While we in the arts community see first-hand every day the effect the arts can have on people’s lives, this data further proves that the arts have a far-reaching impact on the health and vitality of our community, supporting jobs, generating household income, and generating revenue to local and state governments. The Arts don’t simply provide entertainment, they are a vital gear in the machine that keeps Huntsville constantly innovating, creating, and growing.

You can learn more about the AEP5 study and explore our vibrant arts community at

Arts Huntsville was founded in 1962 as a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to stimulate and support community creativity and engagement in the arts to enrich quality of life, education, and economic development in the greater Huntsville metropolitan region. Arts Huntsville serves nearly 250 members including individual artists, bands, and arts and cultural organizations.

Photo credit: Alan Montgomery