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Updated: November 6, 2023

Show me the Monet: Arts, culture nonprofits boost Portland economy by $86M, study shows

Building exterior Photo / Renee Cordes One Longfellow Square is a nonprofit music and events venue based in Portland.

Nonprofit arts and culture organizations delivered an $86 million economic boost to the Portland region in 2022, up from $75.6 million in 2015, a national study shows.

A Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, Americans for the Arts, periodically releases an "Arts & Economic Prosperity Impact Study" to measure the economic effect of spending by nonprofit arts-and-culture organizations and event-related spending by their audiences.

The latest findings, released in October, were delayed for 16 months by the pandemic, which disrupted in-person arts programming and caused financial hardship for the sector. Some organizations were forced to close forever, while others improvised by shifting to online experiences and other business models.

Spending breakdown

Portland's $86 million economic impact includes $58.2 million in spending by nonprofits arts-and-culture organizations and $27.8 million in spending by their audiences.

The study also shows that nonprofits arts organizations in Maine's largest city supported 1,872 jobs and generated $20.7 million in local, state and federal government revenue in 2022.

Close to 60 Portland arts organizations — including museums, performance venues and galleries — participated in the survey. Nationwide, the nonprofits arts and culture sector is a $151.7 billion industry supporting 2.6 million jobs, the study shows.

Spending by arts and culture audiences generates valuable returns for local merchants, a value-add that few other industries can compete with, according to Creative Portland, the city's official arts agency, which spent a year collecting data for the report.

'Vital role'

“This study brings new clarity to the vital role we know the arts to play in Portland’s economic, social and creative well-being,” said Dinah Minot, Creative Portland’s executive director. 

“A key driver for Greater Portland’s economy, the arts and culture sector has undeniable value for our community across the board, which fuels Creative Portland’s efforts to sustain and support local artists and arts initiatives,” she added.

The study, first conducted 30 years ago, evaluated 373 diverse communities and regions in its most recent edition.

In central Maine, Waterville arts and cultural nonprofits generated $13.5 million in economic activity in 2022, or more than double the amount in 2015, the study found.

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