Arts and Culture Propel Economic Growth in Rutherford County


Rutherford Arts Alliance (RAA), a local arts advocacy non-profit and partner with the Americans for the Arts, is excited to announce that the Arts Economic and Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study results are in for 2022/23.

The results, which show a 68% increase in economic activity from the 2017 study, confirm that the arts sector is a major driver of economic growth in Rutherford County, TN. This sector, which was among the most devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, not only helped people find joy and ward off isolation during the pandemic, it also generated $52.4 million in economic activity in Rutherford County– $25.8 million in spending by arts and culture organizations and $26.5 million in event-related spending by their audiences. These findings, taken from 779 attendees between May 2022 and June 2023, make it clear that when a community funds the arts, it not only builds a more beautiful, vibrant place to live, it also significantly stimulates its economy.

AEP6 is the largest and most inclusive study of its kind. It documents the economic and social contributions of arts and culture in 373 communities and regions representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico. In Rutherford County, the report shows that the arts supported 915 jobs, generated $9,476,808 in local, state, and federal tax revenue, and attracted 2,109 volunteers. It goes further to report that the average person spent $37.97 per event, beyond the cost of admission, on things such as dining out, parking, and childcare. And those visiting from outside the county spent more: 24.4% of attendees were nonlocal visitors who spent an average of $57.24.

Two new aspects of the study this year were that it included more diverse organizations, and it also reported on the social impact of the arts. Of the 779 audience surveys collected, 135 were from attendees to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) sponsored arts and culture events, and their expenditures were almost identical to other audiences. This study also shows how the arts and culture affect the well-being of the community. In Rutherford County, 79% of attendees responded that the venue they attended was an important pillar within the community, and 91% of arts and culture organizations reported that the community relies on them to preserve the arts and culture for future generations. This responsibility drives much of the work of Rutherford Arts Alliance, as its Treasurer, Susan Gulley explains:

“Creating an understanding of how much we rely upon the Arts to enhance our lives is often difficult, but it is a goal that the Alliance embraces wholeheartedly. We promote creatives who provide us with murals, concerts, shows, dances, photos, even plates of delicious foods that broaden and beautify our lives. This study shows that Rutherford County believes the Arts are important for our families and community, and RAA is excited to lead the way in connecting these creatives with our community.”

This latest economic study of the arts and culture for Rutherford County delivers a clear message: when communities invest in the arts and culture, they are investing in a sector that stimulates the economy, supports local jobs, and contributes to vibrant, more livable communities. Find out how to help sustain this growth in Rutherford County by going to the Alliance website at