Frequently Asked Questions - Research and Survey Services

Strong and reliable research is a vital component of advocating effectively and making informed programming and policy decisions. Whether you are making the case to your audiences, to your staff and board, to your elected officials and other business and community leaders, or to funders - information is your greatest ally. Our research services are designed to provide the answers that YOU need.

We provide three major research services:

  • Customized Economic Impact Studies, which measure the economic impact of arts-related spending on the economy
  • Web-Based Surveys, which provide detailed information about your members and audiences, etc.
  • Creative Industries Reports, which maps the arts-centric businesses located in your community - and the number of people that they employ

With more than 500 successfully completed customized economic impact studies under our belt over the last ten years alone, Americans for the Arts brings incomparable depth of experience and a wealth of data.

With our studies, you will gain direct access to a wide network of others who have completed studies with us, and you can be sure that your results are rigorously tested with our advanced and authoritative model. 

  • You can compare your findings to the findings for the 341 communities that participated in our most recent national study, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5.
  • Our studies employ a highly regarded input-output analysis that is the basis for two Nobel Prizes in economics (our economist will customize an econometric model specifically for your community).
  • The findings from our studies are the most frequently cited statistics used to demonstrate the impact of the arts on our local, state, and national economies.

We'll need your commitment to completing the data collection requirements. The more time you are willing to dedicate to collecting as much information as you possibly can, the deeper and more powerful the results will be. You take the pulse of your community - and we'll take it from there.

With a small cost-sharing participation fee, you will gain access to a personalized representative at Americans for the Arts to walk you through the process, and you will never have to worry that you are not completing something correctly or that you've misunderstood any numbers. Your understanding of and connection to your own community is our most powerful asset in creating these personalized reports.

But I'm a/an...

Then you're right for this study!  We have worked with everyone from individuals all the way up to statewide agencies, and we have the capacity to work with you whatever your size and capacity.  That includes:

  • Individual facilities (e.g., performing arts centers, museums, and theaters)
  • Arts councils, arts commissions, and departments of cultural affairs
  • Economic development, community development, and planning agencies
  • State arts agencies and statewide advocacy organizations
  • Private foundations and community foundations

Fees depend on the size and scope of your project, as well as the specific service.

We have Creative Industries reports available for as little as $35, while the more time-intensive survey projects start at $3,500. Through our Institute for Community Development and the Arts, Americans for the Arts makes every effort to provide these powerful research tools to every arts organization in the country.

We know that your resources are limited, and we will work with you to make these services possible within your parameters. Please visit the Research and Survey Services page to read more about specific pricing and to read stories from our partners who have seen first-hand the enormous return on investment that our research services provide.

We have worked with everyone from individual performance halls to national service associations, and we have the capacity to work with you - whatever your size and capacity.  Our partners include:

  • Individual facilities (e.g., performing arts centers, museums, and theaters)
  • Arts councils, arts commissions, and departments of cultural affairs
  • Economic development, community development, and planning agencies
  • State arts agencies and statewide advocacy organizations
  • Private foundations and community foundations
  • National service associations


Any time money changes hands, there is a measurable economic impact. Nonprofit arts and culture organizations are employers, producers, and consumers. Their spending is far-reaching: they pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services, and acquire assets within their community. In addition, unlike most industries, nonprofit arts and culture organizations leverage a significant amount of event-related spending by their audiences.

For example, when patrons attend a cultural event, they may pay to park their car, purchase dinner at a restaurant, shop in nearby stores, eat dessert after the show, and stay the night in a hotel (or pay a babysitter upon their return home). This spending generates dependable, sustainable commerce for local businesses.

Our proprietary Arts & Economic Prosperity® research methodology enables our partners to measure—in a reliable and affordable manner—the impact of all this spending on four key areas of your economy:

  1. The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs supported within your community
  2. The amount of household income (i.e., wages and salaries) paid to residents
  3. The amount of revenue generated for local (city and county) government
  4. The amount of revenue generated for your state government

Because no community is the same, there is no one-size-fits-all method of studying the economic impact of the arts.

As an advocacy tool, there is little more powerful than rigorous, deep, and personalized data - the kind of data that convinced California's Speaker of the House John Perez to direct $2 million from the State Assembly Operating Budget to the California Arts Council.

The kind of data that prompted the San Diego, CA city council to unanimously approve a "Penny for the Arts" plan, which could generate an additional $18 million for the arts in San Diego.

And the kind of data that persuaded the New Hampshire State Legislature to increase the appropriation for the NH State Council on the Arts instead of abolishing it.

We are able to study the impact of any organization or geographic region, including:

  • Individual organizations, facilities, performances, or events
  • Arts districts
  • Cities, counties, or multi-county regions
  • Entire states

Americans for the Arts is proud to partially subsidize these customized economic impact studies using the Ruth Lilly Fund for Americans for the Arts and working through our Institute for Community Development and the Arts, with the goal of providing all U.S. communities with affordable access to economic impact research about the nonprofit arts industry.

When compared to for-profit consultants using similar methodology, we charge three to four times less, and endeavor at all times to bring this resource to as many people as possible.

We understand the burdens of time and resources that are a part of everyday life for arts organizations and others that deal directly with them, and we know that every dollar counts.

These customized studies are an invaluable asset to your advocacy efforts, and are a significant investment in the future of the arts in your community. This tool is an upfront cost that we hope will more than pay for itself down the road.

Type of Region to be Studied/Study Participation Fee

Single cultural organization, facility, or event = $3,500

Individual arts, cultural, or entertainment district = $4,500

Entire community (e.g., city, county, multi-region):

  • Population fewer than 100,000 = $5,500
  • Population of 100,000 or more = $8,500

    • Surcharge for study regions that include multiple counties = +$1,000
    • Surcharge for study regions that include cities/counties in multiple states = +$1,000

Entire state = starting at $15,000

A Creative Industries report is a two-page document that maps the location of all of the nonprofit and for-profit arts-related businesses in any political jurisdiction (e.g., city, county, state, legislative district).

The reports provide very specific and reliable data about the number of arts-centric businesses - and the number of people that they employ. They are a proven advocacy tool that can be tailored to your specific political jurisdiction!

By documenting Dun & Bradstreet business and employment data for both the nonprofit and for-profit arts sectors, you can paint a picture of a powerful engine in your community's information economy. What makes this data especially potent is that it can be localized to any city, county, state, region, or political jurisdiction in the country, and it can be updated annually so that you can track trend data.

View a list of key points (pdf, 41KB) on how this data provides a valuable visibility and advocacy tool for advancing the arts.

Your project manager will work closely with you to develop a survey that will be specifically tailored to you and your goals so we can conduct almost any kind of survey online to get you the most useful and targeted information. 

To give just some examples, typical survey projects may include the following:

Profile Surveys

  • Membership profiles
  • Audience, attendee, and visitor profiles
  • Donor and patron profiles

Data Collection Efforts

  • Web-based program applications
  • Information request submissions

Planning Surveys

  • Environmental scans
  • Attitude polls
  • Opinion polls
  • Program evaluations

We understand how busy you are, and we respect any amount of time you want to dedicate to this kind of project. No matter how involved you want to be, you can rest assured that Americans for the Arts will build the project based on your customized specifications and your individual needs. We will take the time to get to know you - who you are, the role you play in your community, and what you hope to gain from a web-based survey - so that we can best serve you, and help you reach your goals.

With the clout of a national service organization behind us, we bring both a high level of expertise and the resources to activate the full potential of the data we collect. Your time is valuable, and we can help you maximize impact without compromising your daily responsibilities.

There are also many advantages to posting surveys online. Web-based surveys allow for much more advanced functionality than a paper-based survey and they automate the process so that responses are instantly submitted into a database and validated for data analysis. Our software also allows us to craft the survey to your specifications in much more complex ways than standard free survey websites would allow.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we are always happy to discuss your particular needs and individual case.

Send us an e-mail or call Americans for the Arts at 202.371.2830 and ask for Research Services, and we will do our best to connect you with a personalized solution. We look forward to hearing from you!

To get answers to your questions - and to request a draft contract for your organization - contact the Research Team at  

Already participated in this program?  We want to hear from you, too!  Please email or call us to let us know how your experience was, and how we can continue to support you in your important advocacy efforts.

Don't miss this valuable opportunity to work with experts one-on-one to create your personalized casemaking tool for the arts in your community!