Mercer County nonprofit arts and culture industry generates significant economic impact, study shows

Photo caption: Historical Society of Princeton’s Concert under the Stars at Updike Farms.

Mercer County recently partnered with Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, to conduct a survey of its nonprofit arts and culture industry. The Mercer County economic impact study was part of a larger United States study by Americans for the Arts that provided detailed findings on 341 study regions and represented all 50 states.

Results show that Mercer County nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences spent $40,809,095 during fiscal year 2015 (national median is $35,750,645). The impact from these expenditures is far reaching. Organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services, and acquire assets within their community. Those dollars, in turn, generated almost $25 million in household income for local residents and more than $4 million in local and state government revenues.

“Mercer County has a vibrant arts and culture community and has become a destination for visitors seeking to take in a theatrical production, visit a museum, or attend a musical performance,” said County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “Based on this study, we are able to better assess the industry’s economic impact and see the direct and indirect benefits that this has on our regional economy.”

A snapshot of the County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry (25 organizations reporting) showed their events leveraged $18.7 million in event-related spending by its audiences. Patrons of the arts often eat dinner in local restaurants, pay for parking, buy gifts and souvenirs, and pay a baby sitter. In Mercer County, these dollars support 1,367 full-time equivalent jobs with Mercer County residents spending more than $25 per event (in addition to cost of admission). The arts and culture industry in Mercer County also attracts non-residents to spend their money and time in Mercer. More than 70 percent of the audience members surveyed for this study came from out of the County – a direct indication of how tourism can spur further economic vitality.

In addition to conducting detailed organizational surveys, this study also used on-site audience exit surveys conducted at various County arts and cultural venues to further assess the larger impact that the industry has on the Mercer County economy. The County partnered with Americans for the Arts and assisted in identifying the County’s cultural resources, providing detailed contact information, and helping to coordinate audience survey information for this study.

This study also identified how rich Mercer County is in “human resources.” The 25 organizations surveyed reported working with almost 1,800 arts and culture volunteers who donated 88,973 hours to Mercer County’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations. This represents a donation of time with an estimated aggregate value of more than $2 million.

For more information on this study and the national study, please visit

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