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  1. Governor
  2. Illinois Creative Economy Initiative


Illinois’ arts and cultural organizations don’t just entertain, inspire, and educate. They also improve the Illinois economy.

The arts -- our artists, museums, theaters, dance companies, orchestras, and cultural centers -- are a world-renowned civic strength and part of the solution to some of the most urgent challenges facing our state. The arts anchor and grow the economy by attracting talent, tourists, and investment to Illinois. According to Arts & Economic Prosperity IV (AEPIV), a new report by Americans for the Arts and Arts Alliance Illinois, each year nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences in Illinois:

  • Contribute $2.75 billion annually to the state’s economy
  • Support over 78,000 full-time equivalent jobs
  • Deliver $324 million in state and local government revenue

And that’s just the nonprofit side of the ledger. An analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data reveals that, as of January 2012, Illinois was home to nearly 34,000 non-profit and for-profit arts businesses such as film, fashion, design, and architecture firms. These creative enterprises employ more than 140,000 people.

Put People to Work

The arts employ artists, managers, marketers, technicians, teachers, designers, carpenters and workers in a wide variety of other trades and professions. Like other jobs, arts jobs help to put food on the table, pay mortgages, and send children to college.

Attract New Investment by Building the Talent Pool

Study after study shows that businesses with good-paying jobs favor locations with amenities that help attract and retain a talented, innovative workforce. The arts are a key element in that equation.

The arts act as a magnet for businesses, attracting companies that want to offer their employees and clients a creative climate and an attractive community with high amenity value. (Sources: State Arts Agency Economic Impact Studies; Americans for the Arts)

Attract Tourists to Illinois

Cultural institutions are also a critical component of one of the state’s most important business strategies—tourism. Illinois hosted 93.3 million out-of-state visitors in 2011.

That’s a record, and a 10 percent increase from 2010. When out-of-state visitors attend arts events, they stay longer and spend more than other kinds of travelers. Attracting more tourists makes economic sense.

In Chicago alone, a healthy 36 percent of people who attend arts events come from outside of Cook County. These cultural tourists spend on average two-and-a-half times more than their local counterparts on event-related expenses including lodging, food, and transportation.