Denver Metro Economy Boosted By Arts Scene

Nov 8, 2014

Visits to Denver's arts and culture facilities are on the rise, creating a ripple effect for economic growth.
Credit Kent Kanouse / Flickr - Creative Commons

It’s no secret that Denver has a burgeoning arts and culture scene. While the rising tech industry, a fast growing population and Colorado's relatively low unemployment rate are all signs of economic growth, arts and sciences are also making their mark on Denver’s healthy business climate.

The Colorado Business Committee for the Arts calculated the economic benefits derived from Denver's vibrant arts community, demonstrating the contributions arts, culture and sciences have made to the state's business growth.

The results [.pdf] came from a survey of 300 arts, culture and scientific organizations regarding their overall vitality compared to previous years. The findings reveal that consumers of the arts, culture and sciences play a big role in Denver’s economic growth in 2013 alone with $926 million contributing to the economy. That marks a 5.1 percent increase from 2011.

Sure, we all contribute directly by paying admission to a concert, play or other cultural event, but that dinner out before the show and the cost of getting to the event contribute just as much to the scene. By paying to attend an event, you are propping up an artist so they can make a livable wage. All of the general living expenses that come with that contribute to the overall economy.

It’s not just Coloradans who are flocking to Denver for the arts and sciences, the number of tourists coming from outside of the state to visit the metro area’s arts scene has grown by 17 percent since 2011.

Volunteering plays a large role as well. Consider that volunteers in the arts and sciences contributed a total of 1.7 million hours to the community in 2013. Those hours equal the work of 851 full-time employees.

So what factors will contribute to future growth in arts, culture and the sciences?

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the younger generation will determine the unfolding of Denver’s creative side. The community spent $4.25 million on outreach to young students in the classroom and beyond, introducing them to scientific breakthroughs, art and music. On average, children had 8.5 experiences with artistic, cultural and scientific groups in 2013.   

With a thriving tech industry paying high wages, college-educated millennials are arriving in droves to the Denver area. With Colorado’s economy coming out ahead of the majority of other states, the future looks bright. While metro Denver currently has 2.9 million residents, that number is expected to top out at 3.6 million by 2028. According to CBCA, the arts and culture scene will have roughly 30 percent more jobs contributing to $989 million in economic impact. Now that’s something Denver’s creative community can look forward to.