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California’s Arts Ecology

Markusen Economic Research

Californians create, organize, and nurture one of the world’s richest arts and cultural ecologies.

California’s arts and cultural nonprofits play an initiating and pivotal role in this ecology. They are important shapers of the state’s internationally renowned cultural industries. They preserve, commission, and present a cornucopia of music, performance, heritage, and visual arts to people in all of the state’s regions, across age groups and ethnicities at all levels of income and wealth.

New findings generated by Markusen Economic Research and commissioned by the Irvine Foundation offer fresh illustrations of the California nonprofit arts sector and the people who take part in it. The study documents the budget size, disciplinary focus, and intrinsic and economic impacts of nearly 11,000 California arts and cultural nonprofits, mapping them onto cities and regions. To explore causal connections, the study correlates elements of this mosaic with community characteristics and details how people work for the sector, volunteer, and make financial contributions. Ultimately, the findings show the overall impact of people and organizations on California’s economy in terms of jobs, income, output, and state and local tax revenue.