Downtown Iowa City’s Nonprofit Arts and Culture Industry Generates $20.4 Million in Economic Activity and 319 Jobs Annually

Downtown Iowa City’s Nonprofit Arts and Culture Industry Generates $20.4 Million in Economic Activity and 319 Jobs Annually

(Iowa City, IA) – November 9, 2023 – The Iowa City Downtown District today announced that Downtown’s collection of nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $20.4 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, investments by arts organizations and arts agencies were a key driver of the arts sector’s resurgence after several challenging years.

The AEP6 conducted by the nation’s largest nonprofit arts education and advocacy group, Americans for the Arts, released its 2022 economic impact report, The Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6). Last conducted in 2015, the Englert Theatre joined the study to ensure it included the Iowa City Downtown District and Iowa City area of the almost 400 communities assessed nationally.

“With the densest application of contributing organizations and venues ever recognized by the Iowa Arts Council as a Cultural & Entertainment District, it’s an open secret the arts live in Iowa City. The Arts are a major cog in our community’s economic engine”, said Nighttime Mayor, Joe Reilly, Iowa City Downtown District.

Results from the Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) provide compelling evidence that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a significant industry in the Iowa City Downtown District—one that generated $20.4 million in total economic activity during 2022.

That $20.4 million in district-wide economic activity includes:

• $12.5 million in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations

• $7.9 million in event-related spending by their audiences

• 319 full-time jobs

• $3.6 million in local, state, and federal government revenue

Based on the study results, when people attend a cultural event in the District, they often make an outing of it—dining at a restaurant, paying for parking, enjoying dessert after the show, and returning home to pay for child or pet care. Overall, in the Iowa City Downtown District, attendees spent $46.77 per person per event, beyond the cost of admission. “These results are a great tool to show the baseline economic impact the arts sector has on downtown. In reality, the art’s impact is much larger than this”, said Iowa City Downtown District, Executive Director, Betsy Potter.  A snapshot report of specific results from the AEP6 for the Iowa CIty Downtown District can be found here.

About This Study
Americans for the Arts conducted AEP6 to document the economic and social benefits of the nation’s nonprofit arts and culture industry. The study was conducted in 373 diverse communities and regions across the country, representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The Englert Theatre joined the study on behalf of the Iowa City Downtown District. For additional information including the national report, summaries for the 373 communities, an online calculator, and a description of the project methodology, visit

Surveys of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations
Nationally, detailed information was collected from 16,399 nonprofit arts and culture organizations about their FY2022 expenditures (e.g., labor, local and non-local artists, operations, materials, facilities, and asset acquisition), as well as their event attendance, in-kind contributions, and volunteerism. Surveys were collected from February through July 2023. Some organizations only provided total expenditures and attendance (they are included in the study). Responding organizations had budgets ranging from a low of $0 to a high of $375 million. Response rates for the 373 communities averaged 43.9% and ranged from 5% to 100%. In the Iowa City Downtown District, 12 of the 38 total eligible nonprofit arts and culture organizations identified by the Englert Theatre provided the financial and attendance information required for the study analysis—an overall participation rate of 31.6%. It is important to note that each study region’s results are based solely on the survey data collected. Therefore, the less-than-100 percent response rates suggest an understatement of the economic impact findings.

Surveys of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Audiences
Audience-intercept surveying, a common and accepted research method, was conducted to measure event-related spending by audiences. Attendees were asked to complete a short survey while attending an event. Nationally, a total of 224,677 attendees completed the survey. The randomly selected respondents provided itemized expenditure data on attendance-related activities such as meals, souvenirs, transportation, and lodging, as well as socioeconomic information, ZIP code of primary residence, and four social impact questions. Data was collected from May 2022 through June 2023 at a broad range of both paid and free events.



John Schickedanz
Executive Director, The Englert Theatre

Betsy Potter
Executive Director, Iowa City Downtown District