Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation

50 years of good 1963 - 2013

Cultural Economic Development

The Ann Arbor area's arts and cultural scene is recognized as one of its most valuable assets - enriching not only the quality of life in our region, but also serving as a catalyst for economic development.

The Community Foundation has always recognized the important role local arts & culture organizations play in creating a vibrant quality of place.  Local examples are plentiful: the  Ann Arbor Art Fairs, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, University Musical Society, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Ann Arbor Symphony, Michigan Theatre, Ann Arbor Art Center, Wild Swan Theater, the Ark,  Riverside Art Center in Ypsilanti, the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, and high school music programs that have earned National Grammy Awards.

Research has long supported the idea that a vibrant arts and cultural sector is an integral part to promoting economic prosperity. Keeping our region an attractive and creative place in which to live, work, learn, and visit  inspires young people to stay, families to raise children here, and companies to invest here. Maintaining a vibrant and active creative sector helps local businesses and institutions attract and retain top talent.

Through a new strategic initiative - Cultural Economic Development (CED) - AAACF seeks to promote economic prosperity for our region by investing in and strengthening arts & culture nonprofits in Washtenaw County and Plymouth. 

The CED initiative seeks to expand community support for our creative sector through a three-part strategy:

  • Convening community stakeholders to identify opportunities,
  • Collecting and sharing data that demonstrate the local economic impact of arts & culture activities, and
  • Mobilizing private resources to make creative investments.

In 2014, AAACF partnered with Americans for the Arts (AFTA) and the Arts Alliance to commission a year-long study to better understand the link between nonprofit arts & culture and our local economy.  Data collected in that study * - through surveys of 89 local arts & culture nonprofits and their audiences - demonstrates that nonprofit arts & culture activities and events generates $100 million annually for the greater Ann Arbor Area.

* The arts & Economic Prosperity IV study of the Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts & Culture Organizations and their audiences in the greater Ann Arbor Area.

To Make a Gift to AAACF's Endowment for the Arts .