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Study: Nonprofit Arts A Billion Dollar Industry

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Chicago’s nonprofit art scene is one of the most economically viable in the country, according to a new study released by a national arts advocacy group.

For Chicago Public Radio, Alex Helmick reports.


Americans for the Arts says 115 nonprofits like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Steppenwolf Theatre brought in more than a billion dollars in economic activity for Chicago.

The figure puts the city second behind the Philadelphia region. New York City and Los Angeles weren’t tallied.

A billion dollars is relatively small compared to the total income of Chicago’s residents-- more than $367 billion .

But economist Diane Swonk says it’s not all about the money.

Swonk: The impact on an economic impact of the arts, non-for-profit arts in particular, far exceeds any dollar.

Swonk says that impact includes better grades for students and a sense of community for local artists and residents.

The study’s authors say it’s intended to inform lawmakers in hopes that nonprofit arts organizations get more government money.

For Chicago Public Radio, I’m Alex Helmick.

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