By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota

In every South Dakota community, local business leaders are a driving force for strengthening the arts and helping to grow cultural opportunities. Traditionally, they are among the strongest community boosters—contributing time, talent and funding to activities that help define their hometowns. Business owners and executives understand the power of a diverse economy and the role arts and cultural organizations play in building local economic prosperity.

The national statistics are impressive—research by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) shows that nonprofit and for-profit arts are a $730 billion industry that directly employs 4.8 million arts workers and represents 4.2 percent of the nation’s GDP—a larger share of the economy than transportation, tourism and agriculture. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity annually through spending by organizations and their audiences, which supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue.

Even more important to businesspeople is the local impact of cultural activities. Attendees at nonprofit arts events spend an average of $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking and babysitters—valuable revenue for each community.

A vibrant arts scene is also a vital recruitment tool to attract new talent. At a time when our state is striving to build its workforce in a competitive environment, creative leisure time activities, entertainment opportunities and participatory arts events are all a big draw. And, with its widely acknowledged role in cultivating critical thinking abilities, our arts in education curriculum helps to prepare young people in every community for challenging careers in any field.

With their long-range view of local development, business leaders are strong and effective partners in expanding the impact of the arts in South Dakota communities. Artists and arts organizations respect the contributions of the business community and applaud their efforts to make each community in our state a better place to live.

To learn more about the economic impact of the arts and how you can help grow the arts in South Dakota, please visit