Iowa City’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $20.4 million in economic activity

The Englert Theatre joined recent study on behalf of the Iowa City Downtown District


Downtown Iowa City’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $20.4 million in economic activity in 2022, according to the newly released Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study, an economic and social impact survey conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s largest nonprofit arts education and advocacy group. AEP6 credits investors by arts organizations and arts agencies as primary factors of the arts sector’s resurgence following several tumultuous years.

According to a news release from Iowa City Downtown District, the last economic report was conducted in 2015. Since then, the Englert Theatre actively participated in the study to ensure the inclusion of the Iowa City Downtown District and the broader Iowa City area, which were among the nearly 400 communities assessed nationwide.

“With the densest application of contributing organizations and venues ever recognized by the Iowa Arts Council as a cultural and entertainment district, it’s an open secret the arts live in Iowa City. The arts are a major cog in our community’s economic engine”, said Nighttime Mayor, Joe Reilly, with the Iowa City Downtown District.

That $20.4 million in district-wide economic activity includes:

  • $12.5 million in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations
  • $7.9 million in event-related spending by their audiences
  • 319 full-time jobs
  • $3.6 million in local, state, and federal government revenue

According to the study results, attendees of District cultural events often spend additional dollars locally, whether it’s dining at a restaurant, paying for parking, enjoying dessert after the show, and returning home to pay for child or pet care. Attendees spent an average of $46.77 per person per event, beyond the cost of admission. 

“These results are a great tool to show the baseline economic impact the arts sector has on downtown. In reality, the art’s impact is much larger than this”, said Iowa City Downtown District executive director, Betsy Potter.

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