Creative Economy Research

The North Carolina Arts Council measures the arts to demonstrate the positive impact on our quality of life and on the state’s economy.

Through the years, the growth of the creative sector — both the nonprofit cultural arts and private sector creative businesses — has contributed to the strength and resilience of North Carolina’s economy.

The state’s $1.24 billion nonprofit arts and cultural sector transforms lives, builds stronger communities and strengthens North Carolina’s economy, supporting 44,000 full time-equivalent jobs and returning almost $120 million to local and state government.


North Carolina has roughly 164,674 total workers within the creative industry (nonprofit and private business), [Link to employment comparison chart of other NC industries] which is more than 3-percent of the state’s workforce. The state’s creative industries as a whole is responsible for 336,000 direct and indirect jobs or 6-percent of the state’s workface.

The arts help communities to prosper as part of a well-diversified 21st-century economy: the arts provide jobs, attract visitors, create products, and builds community vitality. Communities across North Carolina have developed innovative arts education programs, revitalized downtowns, performing arts centers and cultural tourism products to strengthen the local economy and prepare students for jobs.

The Arts Council’s SmART Initiative links cultural arts initiatives with private investment to use the arts to transform downtowns and fuel sustainable economic development.