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AEP6 Study Reveals $196.3MM Annual Economic Impact of Arts and Culture in Forsyth County

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Groundbreaking Study Reveals Economic and Social Impact of $196.3 Million of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Sector in Forsyth County

Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 Study Centers Equity in Economic Research and Highlights Vital Role of Arts and Culture in Building More Livable Communities

Winston-Salem, NC (October 17, 2023) — Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County has announced that Forsyth County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $196.3 million in economic activity in 2022, according to the newly released Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), an economic and social impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts. That economic activity–$101.4 million in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and $94.9 million in event-related spending by their audiences supported 2,472 jobs and generated $34.1 million in local, state, and federal government revenue. Spending by arts and culture audiences generates valuable commerce to local merchants, a value-add that few other industries can compete with.

Building on its 30-year legacy as the largest and most inclusive study of its kind, AEP6 uses a rigorous methodology to document the economic and social contributions of the nation’s nonprofit arts and culture industry. The study demonstrates locally as well as nationally, arts and culture are a critical economic driver of vibrant communities.

“The economic investment in arts and culture in Forsyth County is a testament to our community’s commitment to supporting and revitalizing the sector,” says Chase Law, president and CEO of Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County. “As the first and oldest arts council in the United States, we are pleased to see that the economic and social impact across our community is approaching $200 million.”

Nationally, the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study reveals that America’s nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $151.7 billion industry—one that supports 2.6 million jobs and generates $29.1 billion in government revenue.

“The vitality and strength of a city’s arts and cultural landscape speaks volumes about how a destination is positively perceived by visitors. From a tourism perspective, the findings in this recent AEP6 study continue to affirm Winston-Salem’s rich arts offerings as an integral factor in spotlighting this city as a great place to live, work, and travel,” said Stephanie Pace Brown, president of Visit Winston-Salem.

AEP6 represents a reset from its previous versions, establishing a new benchmark in the AEP study series.

  • Social Impact: For the first time, AEP6 expands beyond the economic and financial data to include social impact measurements of arts and culture’s effect on the well-being of communities and residents.

  • Equity and Inclusion: AEP6 broke new ground by prioritizing equity, community engagement, and inclusivity. With the goal of reducing systemic bias, Americans for the Arts transformed its approach and expanded the inclusion and participation of organizations serving or representing BIPOC- (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and ALAANA- (African, Latine, Asian, Arab, Native American) identifying communities.

“Intentionality pushes our funding community to be inclusive of all of the great organizations that make up our arts and cultural sector, and their specific needs,” says Kenneth Pettigrew, Executive Director of Winston Lake YMCA and Arts Council Board of Trustees member. “By working with organizations such as the North Carolina Black Repertory Company, Triad Cultural Arts, and Delta Arts Center, we were able to better showcase an accurate representation of arts and culture which speaks to life across the community.”

Nationally, the extensive research reveals proportional economic and community impacts among attendees at BIPOC and ALAANA organizations to the overall national average. These findings should initiate new, and escalate existing, critical funding conversations about BIPOC and ALAANA organizations receiving fair and proportional financial support.

Key figures from Forsyth County’s AEP6 study include:

  • Forsyth County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $94.9 million in event-related spending by its audiences.

  • The typical attendee spends $52.17 per person per event, not including the cost of admission.

  • 32.9% of arts and culture attendees were from outside the county in which the activity took place. They spent an average of $83.16. This is all vital income for local merchants.

  • 91.7% of respondents agreed that the activity or venue they were attending was “a source of neighborhood pride for the community.”

  • 87.1% said they would “feel a sense of loss if that activity or venue was no longer available.”

AEP6 demonstrates the significant economic and social benefits that arts and culture brings to their communities, states, and the nation. To amplify the study results and raise awareness of these widespread benefits with public and private-sector leaders, seventeen national organizations partnered with Americans for the Arts on AEP6:

  • Actors’ Equity Association

  • African Diaspora Consortium

  • Arts & Planning Division (American Planning Association)

  • Black Legislative Leaders Network

  • Department for Professional Employees

  • AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations)

  • Destinations International

  • International City/County Management Association

  • Independent Sector

  • National Association of Counties

  • National Conference of State Legislatures

  • National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations

  • National Independent Venue Association

  • National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women

  • Race Forward

  • Recording Industry Association of America

  • The Conference Board

  • U.S. Conference of Mayors

By measuring arts and culture’s wide-ranging impact, public and private sector leaders can work together to secure funding and arts-friendly policies that shape more vibrant and equitable communities.

To download the full report on Forsyth County, download the PDF below:

NC_ForsythCounty_AEP6_CustomizedFinalReport with Summary
Download PDF • 1.15MB

The national full report, a map of the 373 study regions, and a two-page economic impact summary for each, can be found at


Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County is the chief advocate of the arts and cultural sector in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Arts Council’s goal is to serve as a leader in lifting up, creating awareness, and providing support to grow and sustain the arts and cultural offerings throughout our region, ultimately bringing our community together and making it a great place to live, work, and play.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 study was conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. It was supported by The Ruth Lilly Endowment Fund of Americans for the Arts. Americans for the Arts' 297 study partners contributed both time and financial support to the study. For a full list of the communities who participated in the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 study, visit


For additional information, please contact: Katie Hall, Chief Marketing Officer and VP, Development 336-747-1421

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