By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota

The arts change lives, from elementary schools to senior citizen centers and for people in every walk of life—the arts truly benefit us all. And the arts also transform economies, according to a new study of South Dakota’s nonprofit arts and culture industry. Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), an economic and social impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts, documents $363 million in economic activity generated in 2022 across South Dakota. 

This economic activity—$63.7 million in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and $299.3 million in event-related spending by their audiences—generated nearly $52 million in local, state and federal government revenue and supported 6,054 full-time jobs. Spending by arts and culture audiences also includes local merchants, restaurants and lodging facilities, a value-add that few other industries can compete with. 

Our state has always understood the value of cultural attractions and creative enterprises to drive our economy. South Dakota’s creative community contributes in so many ways, reaching beyond our monumental sculptures into the heart of each community. This comprehensive study quantifies the impact of our arts industry in a way that dramatically illustrates its importance to us all.

The audience survey portion of the South Dakota analysis illustrates the overwhelming appreciation of arts and cultural opportunities in our state. 91% of respondents mentioned a sense of community or neighborhood pride in arts offerings, while 88% would feel a sense of loss if cultural opportunities were not available. 87% said arts attendance was a way of ensuring that creative activities and venues are preserved for future generations. 

While an understanding of that economic impact of the sector is critical to its future, the true power of the arts is the social impact within our communities. Our arts venues and opportunities are shining examples of accessibility and inclusivity. We have so much to be proud of in South Dakota’s creative community!

To see the full study as well as individual community data, go to