Report: San Diego’s Nonprofit Arts Scene Generates $1.2 Billion in Economic Activity

Balboa Park craft art
Panels in the “25 Million Stitches” exhibit at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. Photo courtesy of the museum

San Diego’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated nearly $1.2 billion in local economic activity last year, according to a study released Wednesday by the Americans for the Arts.

The study, which looked at regions in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, measured the economic and social impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences.

According to the Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 study, conducted every five years, San Diego saw nearly $658 million in spending by local nonprofit arts and culture organizations in 2022. The study also measured $528 million in event-related spending by audiences — things like restaurant dining, paying for parking or transportation and child care.

“Arts and culture is a critical industry that supports jobs, generates tax revenue, strengthens the tourism economy and makes San Diego more enjoyable for all of us,” Mayor Todd Gloria said. “This study demonstrates that arts and culture enhances our quality of life and boosts our city’s economy.”

Overall, the impact of this economic activity in the city supported 16,900 jobs and generated about $276 million in tax revenue, according to the study.

To support the study, the city hired the San Diego Regional Arts and Culture Coalition to collect 1,548 surveys at various arts and culture events.

“The pandemic severely impacted the nonprofit arts and culture sector, especially the performing arts, leading to reduced audience and revenue challenges,” said Jonathon Glus, the city’s executive director for arts and culture. “However, the data highlights that the nonprofit arts sector is indispensable to the economy, generating nearly $276 million in tax revenue.”

At the regional level, San Diego County’s nonprofit arts and culture sector was found to be a thriving $1.3 billion industry, supporting 19,771 jobs and generating nearly $321 million in tax revenue for local, state and federal governments.

Nationally, the study found that America’s nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $151.7 billion industry that supports 2.6 million jobs and generates $29.1 billion in government revenue.