Arts and the Economy

Home / Arts and the Economy

ArtsFairfax and Arts & Economic Prosperity 6

ArtsFairfax is excited to partner with Americans for the Arts to conduct the local Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study, the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry conducted in the United States.

ArtsFairfax grantees are required to participate in AEP6, including the collection of audience-intercept surveys from now through May 2023, and submission of the organization survey which will be delivered by Americans for the Arts. 

Contact ArtsFairfax to receive a participant toolkit. It is free to participate.

Participation in this research will help ArtsFairfax and Americans for the Arts quantify the economic impact of the arts and culture industry in Fairfax County. The customized report will reveal numerous insights, including analyses of arts and culture jobs throughout the County, and how spending differs between resident attendees and cultural tourists.

About AEP6

The Arts & Economic Prosperity® series is conducted approximately every five years to gauge the economic impact of spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and the event-related spending by their audiences. AEP5, conducted in 2017, revealed the following:

  • The arts drive commerce to local businesses. The arts leverage significant amounts of event-related spending by their audiences. In 2017, arts attendees spent $31.47 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and lodging—vital income for local businesses.
  • Arts travelers are ideal tourists. They stay longer and spend more to seek out authentic cultural experiences. One-third of attendees travel from outside the county in which the activity takes place and spend an average of $48 per person. (69% say they traveled specifically to attend the activity.)
  • Small investments. Big returns. In 2017, the combined $5 billion in direct arts funding by local, state, and federal governments yielded $27.5 billion in government revenue

Organization Survey Details & Participation Incentives

Fairfax organizations have received a survey link specific to their organization. The information is shared directly to Americans for the Arts to provide critical data to leverage increases in local, state, and federal arts funding.



  • Immediately after submitting the online survey, you will receive an email providing direct access to a new customizable advocacy and fundraising tool. Use it to generate a custom Fact Sheet with your organization’s name and logo that can be used for marketing and promotion.  The email will also contain a PDF of the answers you provided.
  • After the results of the AEP6 study are released in October 2023, we will share with you a detailed report that is customized for our community. Using a free calculator in the report, you will be able to compute your organization’s unique impact on the community, providing valuable information for fundraising and advocacy.
  • The report will include easy-to-digest information about the economic and social impacts of the arts and culture—providing an entire menu of talking points to support your organization’s sustainability and growth.



  • The deadline to submit your completed survey is March 31.
  • The survey should be completed by a chief executive (e.g., executive director, CEO, founder, board president). If someone else can better provide the information on behalf of your organization, please simply forward the email to your colleague.
  • You will be asked to enter easy-to-provide information about your budget, attendance, and number of staff/volunteers. Exact figures are not required. Your best estimates are fine.
  • The length of the survey varies based on budget size. Feel free to download a PDF of the appropriate survey version for your organization and prepare your answers in advance, and then you can simply fill in and submit the secure web form when you receive the email from Americans for the Arts next week.
  • All the information collected will remain strictly confidential. It is impossible for anyone other than the independent researchers to access the information, and they are required to use multi-factor authentication. Your organization’s survey answers will never be shared with any other person or organization—not even ArtsFairfax.

Frequently Asked Questions about AEP6 Audience Surveys

How long will Americans for the Arts accept surveys?

From now through April 2023! If you don’t have events happening for a few months, that’s okay. Let us know and we’ll be happy to send you reminders and survey tools for your Fall and Winter events.


Can we participate if we are not a performing venue?

Yes! The goal of AEP6 is to capture community data across artistic disciplines and at community fairs, festivals, book readings, concerts–you name it! We are collecting surveys from both paid admission and free admission activities. If you represent the nonprofit arts and culture community and are hosting any kind of public gathering, we want to hear from you.


Should we participate if we’re a youth organization and our audiences are mostly family members?

Yes! This study asks questions about the activities surrounding an arts event, including whether or not attendees had to travel, purchase food, attire, or other materials for the event. Any and all data is helpful!


How many surveys do we need to collect?

If you only get 10, we will take them! We’re asking participating organizations to try to collect at least 40 surveys from now through April 2023. All 395 participating communities across the country, including Fairfax County, are charged with collecting 800 surveys, 200 of which must be collected from BIPOC-led or BIPOC-centered organizations. Every survey counts!


We don’t have much staff to support this effort but we think it’s important. What should we do?

Let us know about key events on your calendar. ArtsFairfax staff will try to attend your event to support you. While we won’t be able to staff everything, we can work with you on a solution.