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  • Writer's pictureImagine MKE

Groundbreaking Study Highlights the Economic and Social Impact of Arts and Culture Orgs in Milwaukee



The Arts and Economic Prosperity Study results are now live! This study, conducted by Americans for the Arts, was collected in 373 communities nationwide in partnership with local research partners (that's us!). Over the last year, with generous support from First Stage, Milwaukee Rep, and UPAF, and with cooperation and help from scores of arts orgs of all sizes and disciplines, volunteers, and arts administrators, we surveyed hundreds of Milwaukeeans and visitors at arts events to learn about their spending and attitudes towards arts and culture offerings in Milwaukee. As part of this research Milwaukee arts and culture organizations were invited to share data about their employment figures, generated revenue and more. The results are a snapshot of the economic impact of the arts nonprofit organizations in Milwaukee.

Top Milwaukee takeaways from data collected in 2022:


Milwaukee Arts data AEP6 Imagine MKE
  • The arts and culture nonprofit sector generated $334.6 million dollars in economic activity


  • $191.8 million was spent by arts and culture orgs


  • There was $142.8 million in event-related spending (outside of the cost of admission) by audiences



Milwaukee Arts AEP6 Data Imagine MKE
  • The nonprofit arts and culture sector generated $57.8 million in tax revenue


  • Event attendees in Milwaukee spent an average of $31.37 (outside the cost of admission) on arts and culture events


  • The nonprofit arts and culture sector supports about 4,550 jobs in Greater Milwaukee


Milwaukee audiences also demonstrate appreciation for the impact of arts and culture. Attendees of arts and culture events were asked about how important the arts and culture were to them.


Level of Agreement with Social Impact Statements from Audiences


81.0%: “This venue or facility is an important pillar for me within my community.”


86.4%:“I would feel a great sense of loss if this activity or venue were no longer available.”


86.1%: “This activity or venue is inspiring a sense of pride in this neighborhood or community.”


84.6%: “My attendance is my way of ensuring that this activity or venue is preserved for future generations”



A group of Black women artists are speaking and seated in front of an audience at MARN.
A Creative Mixer held by Imagine MKE, MARN and Portrait Society Gallery, featuring an artist talk from Della Wells, Rosemary Ollison and Ariana Vaeth.


The impact of our nonprofit arts and culture orgs are significant employers, tax revenue generators, and are playing a huge role in driving Milwaukee's hospitality and tourism activity. Attendees (both Milwaukeeans and visitors alike) value arts activities and are drawn to the Milwaukee to experience the richness of culture here.


With this data at our disposal, we can help shift the narrative about the the critical need to support Milwaukee's nonprofit organizations and their activities, as pillars within our cultural and economic ecosystem. Maybe you work within an arts organization, and are wondering how to leverage the data. A few suggestions for how we can call attention to how important our arts nonprofts are within the larger economy:


  • Cite these findings directly in your grant applications, solicitations, and on your websites.


  • Share these stats on social media (you can also find and share posts directly from our social pages, thank you in advance for tagging @imagine_mke).


  • Talk about the impact of arts and culture nonprofits within Wisconsin's overarching Creative Economy (see images below for more information) to your organization's stakeholders and audience!


  • Contact Imagine MKE for the full City of Milwaukee findings, or to discuss opportunities to amplify this data and the message that the arts nonprofits are an important piece of the puzzle to our city's vitality.



In this iteration of the Arts and Economic Prosperity Study, Americans for the Arts employed a refined focus on equity and inclusion practices. Learn more about the ways in which BIPOC and ALAANA audiences and BIPOC and ALAANA community-serving organizations were centered in this study.


With this data, our community has another tool at our disposal to help shift the narrative about how important our arts and culture nonprofits are to this community's vibrancy. Help us tell this story!



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