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Arts have starring role in the economy

Report details a $1b annual boost for Greater Boston from the arts

Revelers at the 2013 Lowell Folk Festival parade.Lowell Festival Foundation

Boston’s nonprofit arts scene may aim for civic enrichment, but it’s big business, according to a report from ArtsBoston.

Drawing from data submitted by 356 artistic and cultural institutions, the report found they contribute nearly $1 billion to the Greater Boston economy per year.

“Anecdotally, we’ve always known that arts and culture are a big business,” said Catherine Peterson, the head of ArtsBoston. “It’s the first time that we’ve actually had access to the data.”

“The Arts Factor” report also said that when spending induced by patronizing the arts — such as on parking and restaurant meals — was counted, artistic and cultural institutions pumped an additional $450 million into the region’s economy.


Peterson said the report demonstrated the social and economic clout of artistic and cultural nonprofits. One of the goals, she said, was to ensure “that we are always at the table when decisions are being made and resources are being allocated.

“You put us all together and we have major heft.”

The report uses information from the Cultural Data Project, a nonprofit that harvests details from grant applications submitted to foundations that support the arts, including the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Barr Foundation, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Boston Foundation, Linde Family Foundation, and Greater Worcester Community Foundation.

Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @thenewsham.