Last year around this time, I wrote a blog post highlighting the work the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University was performing to quantify the impact that Maryland’s Arts and Entertainment (A&E) Districts have on the state’s economy. Since the impacts stemming from just the A&E Districts are significant—approximately 6,000 jobs, $571.4 million in state GDP, $198.5 million in wages, and $38.5 million in state and local taxes supported annually throughout Maryland—I thought it would be interesting to examine the impact and influence of the broader arts community in the state.

According to a report released by the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), Maryland has a vibrant non-profit arts community that receives support from MSAC. Performing arts organizations produce dance, theater, music, and opera; meanwhile visual arts organizations include galleries, museums, photography, and film-making and design organizations. Other organizations include those engaged in multidisciplinary arts, produce festivals, radio and TV programs, and folk arts. In fiscal year 2015, all of these organizations had total operating expenditures of $264,474,862 and full-time equivalent (FTE) employment of over 3,000. MSAC estimated that arts audiences exceeded 9.2 million participants for these organizations, which directly corresponds to gross sales of $448,903,501 and FTE employment of over 7,800. When combined, the operations of arts organizations and the audiences that attend their events contributed nearly $1.2 billion in gross sales, nearly $422 million in employee income, and nearly 14,600 FTE jobs to Maryland’s economy in FY 2015.

In addition to the economic benefits of Maryland’s strong arts community, the arts enrich the lives of Maryland residents. Each of Maryland’s counties, as well as Baltimore City, has its own arts council to support artistic endeavors for their citizens. And, when surveyed, 84 percent of Maryland residents indicated that they are involved in the arts either professionally or recreationally. The arts also are a boon to Maryland’s students: research has found that student participation in the arts is associated with fewer classroom behavior issues, more optimistic views of college attendance, better grades in other subjects, higher SAT scores, enhanced cognitive development and emotional well-being, more creative problem solving, and other positive outcomes. Students carry these benefits with them into adulthood (and the labor force).

Clearly, the arts are an important part of Maryland’s economy and help to foster a state of creativity.