Facts and figures

Facts and figures about the arts, arts education and creative economy in Wisconsin:

  • Arts and Economic Prosperity V: The Wisconsin Arts Board and Americans for the Arts conducted a comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in Wisconsin in 2016.  The study reveals that local nonprofit arts organizations generate $657 million in economic activity annually, resulting in nearly $75 million in local and state tax revenues, 26,695 in full-time equivalent jobs and $555 million in resident income.
  • Wisconsin’s Creative Industries: This Creative Industries: Business & Employment in the Arts report provides a research-based approach to understanding the scope and economic importance of the arts in Wisconsin. The creative industries are composed of arts businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and design companies.  The most recent figures available for Wisconsin (2017) show that nearly 9,200 arts-related businesses employ over 50,000 people throughout the state.
  • BEA/NEA Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACPSA).  A collaboration of the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the ACPSA is the first federal effort to provide in-depth analysis of the arts and cultural sector’s contributions to the U.S. economy.  New data in 2018 reveals that the arts contribute more than $760 billion to the U.S. economy, with a $9.1 billion impact for Wisconsin.
  • New Research Report Highlights Economic Impact of the Arts in Rural Communities, 11-15-17, from the National Endowment for the Arts
  • From SMU’s National Center for Arts Research:
    • Cultural Vibrancy Index: What factors make up a community’s arts vibrancy, and which cities possess them? SMU​’s National Center for Arts Research provides scores for every county’s Arts Dollars, Arts Providers, Government Support, Socio-economic and Other Leisure characteristics – March 2017
    • The behavior patterns of arts audiences and how the distance between households and arts venues influences the likelihood of arts participation, to promote a deeper understanding of the opportunities that exist to better satisfy the needs of arts audiences and to remove real and perceived barriers to arts attendance. Read the white paper on NCAR’s website. The research was supported by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. October 2017
    • Arts and Culture Are Closer Than You Realize: U.S. Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Organizations Are a Big Part of Community Life, Economy, and Employment —and Federal Funding Enhances the Impact – report from SMU’s National Center for Arts Research, March 2017

Examples of the creative economic at work in Wisconsin:

  • Wisconsin’s vibrant arts community makes us a strong recruiting draw in the 21st century economy and sets us apart from other states.  Wisconsin’s creative sector adds energy to the economy, generates jobs, attracts businesses, enhances education for all Wisconsin students, enlivens communities, and supports quality of life in every corner of the state.  Read all about the “rural renaissance” fueled by the arts in SW Wisconsin (Reedsburg Times, 10-8-15)
  • Downtown development projects such as Eau Claire’s Confluence Project, the Walls of Wittenberg, Wausau’s ArtsBlock, Green Bay’s Fox River public art development, downtown Fond du Lac’s cultural district, and waterfront cultural facility development in La Crosse, St. Croix Falls, Racine, Kenosha, help attract revenue, jobs, residents, and visitors.
  • Wisconsin is the birthplace of Frank Lloyd Wright; Taliesen, his home and workplace, is located in Spring Green. Wisconsin is home to many Wright-designed and Wright-inspired buildings, including the S.C. Johnson headquarters in Racine, and Madison’s First Unitarian Church and Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.
  • Wisconsin offers world-class arts and cultural institutions including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Art Museum, Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (Appleton), Racine Art Museum, American Players Theatre (Spring Green), Overture Center for the Arts (Madison), Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum (Wausau).
  • Milwaukee’s Latino Arts, Inc. and Madison’s Simpson Street Free Press have been recognized with national “Coming Up Taller” awards from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, recognizing exemplary creative educational opportunities.
  • Wisconsin’s restored and rejuvenated historical theaters are community centers and destinations, including the Thrasher Opera House (Green Lake), Wisconsin Union Theatre (Madison), Grand Opera House (Oshkosh), Grand Theatre (Wausau), Al. Ringling Theatre (Baraboo), Pabst Theatre (Milwaukee), Temple Theatre (Viroqua), and the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts (Menomonie).
  • Wisconsin has outstanding college and university arts programs, including a renowned glassmaking program and the Tandem Press printmaking center (UW-Madison), a Media Arts program (UW-Stout), and outstanding community-based arts and education centers at our private colleges, UW System two- and four-year campuses, and tech colleges.
  • Wisconsin is known for its community arts educational institutions, such as Peninsula Arts School (Fish Creek), UW School of the Arts (Rhinelander), Central Wisconsin. School of Ballet (Wausau), The Clearing (Ellison Bay), Driftless Folk School (Viroqua), School of the Arts Legacy Program (Rhinelander), Clear Water Folk School (Ashland), Madeline Island School of the Arts and Monroe Street Arts Center (Madison).
  • Wisconsin has countless community-based arts, cultural, and heritage organizations, including Big Top Chatauqua (Bayfield), African-American Children’s Theatre (Milwaukee), Folklore Village (Dodgeville), St. Croix ArtBarn (Osceola), Northern Lakes Center for the Arts (Amery), Peshtigo Fire Museum, Was-wa-goning (Lac du Flambeau), and Lemon Street Gallery/Artspace (Kenosha).
  • Wisconsin has over 30 gallery and art urban and rural studio tours, including the Fall Art D/Tour (Sauk County), the Fall Art Tour in southwestern Wisconsin and Riverwest Artists’ Gallery Nights (Milwaukee).
  • Wisconsin’s numerous “naïve art” sites are cultural tourism/education destinations; many have been restored by the Kohler Foundation, such as Grandview (Blanchardville), Wisconsin Concrete Park (Phillips), Painted Forest (Valton), and Dickeyville Grotto.
  • Ten Chimneys, the restored summer estate of theatrical legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine, is a nationally-renowned home for American theater and education in Genesee Depot, outside Milwaukee.
  • Five Wisconsin small towns and rural areas listed in “The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America”: Bayfield/Ashland, Spring Green, Door County, Mineral Point and Amery.

updated 4-10-18