Shared Voices: What’s the Economic Impact of the Arts in Kansas City?

What’s the economic impact of the arts in Kansas City? “A vibrant arts and culture industry in our region is what helps our businesses and the communities thrive, in addition to generating income and jobs,” said Dana Knapp, President & CEO of ArtsKC. “Nationally and locally, the arts drive substantial business growth in addition to all of their other benefits for our communities.” On August 2, 2017, Arts and Culture Industry leaders and advocates gathered for a panel presentation and networking opportunity hosted by ArtsKC – Regional Arts Council in partnership with Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the City of Kansas City, Mo. Office of Culture and Creative Services, and the Arts Council of Johnson County (ACJC). The presentation focused on the economic impact of arts and culture and was based on data from a five-year study conducted by AFTA: Kansas City Metro Arts & Economic Prosperity® 5 (AEP5). To see more details and resources from the study, visit

This study gathered data from 133 of the 309 eligible nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in five counties (Clay, Jackson, Platte, Johnson and Wyandotte) to demonstrate how arts and culture add to the community’s growth. ArtsKC shares a brochure with visuals representing how this industry contributes to Kansas City’s tourism, jobs and income, economic impact and overall quality of life. An impressive data point for 2015 is, the total economic impact of arts and culture in the KC metro was $276 million, which is up significantly since 2010 (39% for audience spending and 69% in organizational operating expenditures).

According to the findings, the reason for this dramatic increase in spending is due to the number of new organizations, including two national organizations, as well as the 14% increase in audience. The increase in the resident audience as well as tourists has allowed for higher spending, which in turn allows for economic growth in this industry and community. “Arts aren’t just food for the soul, but put food on the table,” said Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research and Policy for AFTA. “In the KC Metro, the nonprofit arts and culture industry employs nearly 9,000 people.”

During his keynote presentation, Mr. Cohen highlighted findings from the study and then a panel discussed the significance of the arts to various business sectors. Panelists were: Carolyn Watley, Vice President of Community Engagement at CBIZ, Dr. Cynthia Lane, KCK Superintendent of Schools, Hannes Zacharias, County Manager, Johnson County, Ronnie Burt, President & CEO of Visit KC, Randy, and Jon Stephens, President of Rockhill Strategic served as facilitator.

ArtsKC is a regional nonprofit arts council that promotes, supports and advocates for the arts across a five-county region. They promote art in all its forms, including events, performances, exhibits, music, theater, visual art and poetry, as well as arts organizations, individual artists and arts programs of every size by awarding more than 100 grants annually to help fund their missions and projects. ArtsKC advocates for the arts by bringing together key constituents to lobby for increasing arts funding and by fighting for issues that advance the arts. The mission of ArtsKC – Regional Arts Council is to unleash the power of the arts. Please visit for more information and for a local arts and cultural events calendar.

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