Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 Study for Greater Danbury

Lisa Scails | December 21, 2021

Do the arts contribute to our prosperity? Of course, they do, and we’re gathering the data to prove it! Beginning in May, the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut will survey art and culture lovers in 2022. We join nearly 300 study partners across the country for a research project led by Americans for the Arts. The Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 study (AEP6), which is supported by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of the Arts, will be conducted throughout Greater Danbury and across the state. Our goal is to collect at least 800 surveys within the 10-town region represented by Western Connecticut Council of Governments: Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, and Sherman.

The Value of the Arts for the Economy

Arts advocates know the arts provide tremendous societal benefits. But the economic impact of the arts resonates best with policymakers and the budgets they control. Every arts advocate should have the best economic research available to make the case for better public policy. Data continues to show that arts and culture are vital to local economies. By surveying communities now, especially as we work through a pandemic, we can continue to gather data that proves the arts are worthy of support from government, businesses and individuals interested in strengthening our region. When the study is complete, we will receive a unique economic impact report customized for our region. No other report provides insights of this nature.

Calling All Arts & Culture Groups

We’re looking for arts and culture groups to help raise awareness and take part in survey collection. All partners, big and small, will impact the research and findings. Our aim is to recruit as many arts and culture partners as possible to represent every town — the more organizations that participate, the better.

Cultural Alliance partners will receive exposure on all marketing and promotion efforts for the study. They will also be the first to receive a copy of the report. Partners to date: 

  • Ridgefield Arts Council
  • Newtown Chamber of Commerce
  • Western Connecticut State University
  • Bethel Arts
  • Ridgefield Theater Barn
  • Bethel Jazz
  • Northwest Arts Council
  • Danbury Cultural Commission 
  • Thrown Stone Theatre Company

For more information about how your organization can participate, click below and complete the form.

Previous Studies

The Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut participated in the Americans for the Arts study in 2010 and 2015 in partnership with the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County, which serves lower Fairfield County. The current study, AEP 5, is limited to state-level and county reporting, but the Cultural Alliance needs local information from an authoritative source to make the best case to our policymakers at all levels of government in Western Connecticut. Thanks to the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s (DECD) Office of the Arts and their funding support – we can conduct a study for our region.

Audiences Eager to Return

As communities continue to navigate COVID-19 and reopen safely, it is more important than ever to show how the arts provide a significant boost to the economy—even during a pandemic. As we safely return to normal, the arts will draw people out of their homes and back into community life—spending time with each other, spending their money with local merchants, and kickstarting cultural tourism. Audiences are eager to return to arts venues and engage with the arts. Our AEP6 data collection team will be there when they do! 

About the Study

AEP6 data collection will be performed throughout 2022, and reports will be released in June 2023. Surveys will request information about FY22 budgets from nonprofit arts organizations and attendance. 

AEP5 demonstrated that the nonprofit arts in the U.S. were a $166.3 billion industry in 2015 — $63.8 billion in spending by arts organizations, and an additional $102.5 billion in event-related spending by audiences. This economic activity supported 4.6 million jobs and generated $27.5 billion in government revenue. The arts, unlike most industries, leverage additional spending by their audiences — $31.47 per person, per event (beyond the cost of admission) on meals and beverages, retail shopping, transportation, and lodging. AEP6 is our opportunity to show updated findings that are customized for your community. 


“Who can take part in the AEP6 study?”

The research will use a broad definition of the nonprofit arts and culture sector, based on the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (the coding system the IRS uses to characterize tax-exempt organizations) to determine participant eligibility. Eligible types of organizations, departments, divisions, programs, and facilities include: 

  • Traditional nonprofit arts and culture organizations (e.g., museums, theaters, etc.)
  • Municipally owned and municipally operated presenting facilities or institutions (e.g., a city-operated facility)
  • Unincorporated community arts and culture organizations (e.g., a community theater)
  • Arts programs embedded in non-arts organizations (e.g., an arts program in a church, library, or senior center)
  • Living collections such as botanical gardens, zoos, and aquariums
  • Historical societies and other historical or historic preservation organizations
  • Private arts councils (and cultural alliances, etc.)
  • Municipal arts agencies (e.g., an arts commission or a department of cultural affairs
  • Study partner should complete the survey for their organization
  • In short, if it displays the characteristics of a nonprofit arts and culture organization and has an identifiable budget/attendance and leadership, they encourage study partners to include them.
  • INELIGIBLE: For-profit/commercial businesses and individual artists are EXCLUDED from the methodology for this study. 

Are the economic impact surveys the same for all organizations?

No. Small organizations ($50k or less operating budget) will answer fewer questions and need to provide fewer details than large organizations. Large organizations will be asked to provide a bit more detail. The entire organizational survey is streamlined significantly from past AEP studies and will use logic (e.g., skipping and branching) so that smaller organizations will only be asked for top-line data. 

As a partner organization, how much of my time will this take?

It differs for each partner and largely depends on your abilities. Helping to promote the study throughout the year takes the least amount of time. We appreciate help with conducting the study at one or more events during the year. 

Calling All Volunteers!

You don’t need to be part of an arts and culture organization to make a difference! We also need individual volunteers to help conduct the study. It’s a great opportunity for artists and art lovers alike to connect with and support arts and culture organizations in your local area. And don’t worry—you don’t need survey experience to help!