San Francisco’s economy reaps benefits of arts & culture sector

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

If you’ve ever taken a trip to San Francisco, you know there is a lot to do. From going to a professional football or baseball game, to visiting Fisherman’s Wharf or Alcatraz, even driving down crooked Lombard Street, there’s never a dull moment.

Well, if you are one of the many who visited a local art gallery, museum or attended the ballet or opera, San Francisco wants to thank you.

According to a new study by Americans for the Arts, nonprofit arts and culture pumped millions of dollars into the local economy.
Photo of SF Museum of Modern Art by estro via Flickr.

The study was conducted in 2010 when the city’s unemployment was above 10 percent. Right now, it’s 6.9 percent.  

“The nonprofit arts and culture sector is vital to the character of our city and now we have proof that it is critical to our local economy,” said Mayor Edwin Lee.

From 2005 to 2010, the study points out arts organizations generated $710 million for the economy, supported 19,744 full-time jobs and delivered nearly $60 million in local and state revenue.

Not to mention, a study by the San Francisco Travel Association reveals arts and culture-inspired tourism contributed $1.7 billion.

“Not only are the arts a cornerstone of our tourism industry, but we’ve seen first-hand how investing in the arts can help transform depressed neighborhoods and help them attract and sustain new business and jobs,” said the mayor.

“In most cities, roughly 30 percent of arts and culture audiences come from out of town, but in San Francisco more than 50 percent live outside the city and their spending fuels the local economy by pumping vital revenue into local businesses,” said Randy Cohen, Americans for the Arts Vice President of Research and Policy.

The study points out tourists stay longer and spend more than the average traveler. In the City by the Bay, more than half of the 10.4 million nonprofit arts attendees are non-residents. And non-resident attendees spent an average of 66 percent more per person than local attendees.

“Arts and culture are a key reason that people choose to visit San Francisco and the constant evolution of our cultural findings keeps visitors returning again and again,” said San Francisco Travel Association President and CEO Joe D’Alessandro.

The study is the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind and proves the arts industry is resilient, even in a down economy and plays a key role in strengthening the city and the state’s economy.


Cheryl Getuiza

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