Arts industry in Boulder returns $21.9 million in revenue to local, state, and federal coffers

The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $115.1 million in annual economic activity in Boulder - 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, and demonstrates that arts and culture are a critical economic driver of vibrant communities locally as well as nationally.

Results show that nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Boulder spent $53.5 million during fiscal year 2022. This spending is far-reaching: organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services and acquire assets within their community. Audiences spent an additional $61.6 million in event-related expenditures, such as eating dinner in local restaurants, paying for parking, buying gifts and souvenirs, and paying a babysitter. What’s more, attendees from out of town often stay overnight in a local hotel. The total direct economic impact of both arts nonprofits and their audiences was more than $115 million in 2022.

The nonprofits sustained 1,711 jobs, and $51.6 million in household income for local residents. All that 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. 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.

“We deeply value the creative community for how they make Boulder a great place to live, work, and play – but, as the report states, art is not just food for the soul,” says Boulder City Council member Matt Benjamin. “Our arts and culture nonprofits make broad financial impacts by employing our neighbors and bringing guests to our businesses. As a City Council member, knowing that our support for the arts has such a significant return on investment, it becomes clear that funding arts is emblematic of a thriving community.”

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 full-time equivalent jobs and $101 billion in personal income.

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 research 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 arts and culture “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 AEP6 research demonstrates the profound impact of the arts on Boulder, as both an economic engine and catalyst for social growth and unity,” says Cris Jones, the director of the City of Boulder Community Vitality Department. “We are proud to see that the city's investment in the arts of nearly $15 million dollars over these past eight years, as well as initiatives like the Community, Culture, and Safety Tax, are having a real impact, together with the passion of audiences and the support of donors. We eagerly anticipate our continued role as a vital force in the advancement of our arts and culture community as we continue to further the objectives of the Community Cultural Plan, and we look toward charting the future path of Arts and Culture investments in the years ahead.”

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. For more information, visit

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