The Arts Mean Business in Springfield, Economic Impact: $26.9M

The Arts mean business in Springfield, MO

The arts and culture mean business in Springfield. According to the Arts & Economic Prosperity Study 5, the total economic impact of the arts and culture sector in Springfield, Missouri last year was $26.9-million. The results were released at a press conference July 12, 2017, at The Creamery Arts Center.

“We’ve always known anecdotally arts and culture impact lives and support local businesses,” Springfield Regional Arts Council (SRAC) Executive Director Leslie Forrester says, “but we’ve never had the capacity to confirm this with hard data.”

Of the $26.9-million, $17.1-million came from spending by audiences on dining, lodging, retail, tickets, and $9.8-million was spent by organizations producing the events. The arts supported 1,065 full-time equivalent jobs which paid $20.5 million in household income to residents, and generated $1.3-million in local government revenue ($1-million in state government revenue).

“It’s good news, but it’s not surprising news,” says Mayor Ken McClure. “We are so  blessed in Springfield, Missouri, to have a very strong arts community.”


The arts and culture sector is an enormous factor for where businesses are going to locate and expand, a primary component to Springfield’s long-term economic health.

“There are very few factors that we found over the years that have as wide of an impact on where businesses growth happens in terms of talent and workforce,” Matt Morrow, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce President, says. “A big, big part of how communities compete for jobs, economic growth, and capital investment is by demonstrating it’s a community that’s an attractive place for people to live and that they can enjoy the lifestyle they want.”


The AEP5 found that the money spent in Springfield would have likely gone elsewhere were the event not available. Most nonlocal tourists (83.9%) said they came to Springfield, specifically for the event they were attending. Fifty-one percent would have traveled to another community if it wasn’t offered in Springfield.

And they’re buying more than a ticket. Nonresident attendees spend 28-percent more per person than local attendees ($28.26 vs. $22.10, not including price of admission) on meals, lodging, transportation, souvenirs, et al.

“It’s well documented that cultural tourists spend more when they travel,” says Tracy Kimberlin, president and CEO of the Springfield Conventions and Visitors Bureau. “Not only are the culutural tourists adding to the crowds at the events, but they certainly add to the economy as well.”

Close to half of local residents (42.9%) would have traveled to a different community for a similar event.


Springfield’s organizational spending ($9.8-million) was below the median of similar study regions ($14.5-million). The nearly 100,000 donated hours from 1,678 volunteers make up the difference.

“Volunteers are what makes our community function and function smoothly,” McClure says. “If you go to events, arts-related or otherwise, you will certainly encounter people who are volunteering their time.”


Nationally, the AEP5 found the total impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry to be $166.3-billion, $27.54-billion in total government revenue. The arts employed 4.6-million people and paid resident household incomes of nearly $100-billion.

“The arts are a very key ingredient, a very key partner. As we talk to people who come into our community, they frequently talk about two things: ‘what do you have available in terms of the arts experience?’ and, secondly, ‘how can I be engaged?’” McClure says.

Statewide, a government investment of around $4.7-million saw a return of $1.1-billion in spending.

The study, performed by Americans for the Arts, puts to rest a misconception that communities support arts and culture events at the expense of local economic development. Communities, instead, are investing in an industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is the cornerstone of tourism. 


  • Dickerson Park Zoo
  • Discovery Center
  • Downtown Springfield Association
  • Eclectic Endeavors
  • Gillioz Theatre
  • Global Crafts
  • History Museum
  • Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts
  • Men’s Chorus of the Ozarks
  • Mid-America Performing Arts Foundation
  • Moon City Creative District
  • Moxie Cinema
  • Ozarks Literacy Council
  • Southwest Missouri Art & Craft Guild
  • Springfield Art Museum
  • Springfield Ballet
  • Springfield Chamber Chorus
  • Springfield Contemporary Theatre
  • Springfield Dance Alliance
  • Springfield Little Theatre
  • Springfield Regional Arts Council
  • Springfield Regional Opera
  • Springfield Symphony Orchestra
  • Stomp the Blues Out of Homelessness