CBCA’s Economic Activity Study of Denver Metro Culture is a biennial report that quantifies the economic contributions that arts and culture make on the Denver metro area. In collaboration with Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), CBCA has been demonstrating the social and financial impact of the arts on our region for nearly three decades.

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The abrupt and devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nonprofit cultural sector is clear, reversing a decade of growth in the Denver metro area, as evidenced by Colorado Business Committee for the Arts’ (CBCA) latest Economic Activity Study of Metro Denver Culture, presented by U.S. Bank, released on November 4, 2021.

Arts, culture and scientific organizations are the backbone of a vibrant, resilient and inclusive society. This study illustrates years of record-breaking cultural growth and how a community responds to drastic and disruptive circumstances.

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  • Arts and cultural activity reached a peak in 2019, breaking records for economic activity and impact.  Economic activity, which comprises direct and indirect spending from operations, audiences and capital projects, reached $2.3 billion in 2019, the highest amount reported by CBCA. Economic impact, a segment of total activity that accounts for “new money” to the region, also reached a new height at $860 million.
  • The arts sector lost a decade of growth in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary closure of venues and stay-at-home orders starting in March 2020 had a sudden and severe impact on the arts community. Key metrics like jobs and attendance were reduced to levels from the last recession or lower.
  • Investments in new facilities, renovations and capital campaigns boosted overall economic activity and impact in 2019 and into 2020. There was a 272% increase from 2017 to 2019 in the economic impact of capital expenditures. Several of those projects continued into 2020, despite indoor spaces remaining closed during the pandemic.
  • Individual giving and government grants increased significantly in 2020. These sources helped to cover major losses in earned revenue and corporate event sponsorships as a result of the pandemic. Individual giving increased 14% from 2019 to 2020, and federal grants increased by a record-breaking 420% in 2020. In general, philanthropy and public support for the arts is the only key metric that went up (5.5%) between 2019 and 2020.
  • Throughout the uncertainty of 2020, public funds through the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) proved to be a vital stabilizing force. SCFD is a seven-county special tax district that funds arts, cultural and scientific organizations. Cultural funding through SCFD has steadily increased over the last decade, breaking another record in 2019.  Based on the data in this study, funding through the SCFD only declined 1% between 2019 and 2020.

Check out the Program, including speakers, panelists and entertainment, from the roll-out event on November 4, 2021.

Press Coverage: Denver Gazette, Denver Post, CBS4, Denver Business Journal, Rocky Mountain PBS, 9 News

CBCA welcomes the opportunity to speak to you and your organization about this study and share this information.  Contact CBCA at main@cbca.org to learn more or schedule a presentation.

Thank you to the Presenting Sponsor, U.S. Bank, for making this report and roll-out event possible. As well as appreciation to all the sponsors: Pinnacol Assurance, Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority (CECFA), Employers Council, Forte Commercial Real Estate, Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) and VISIT DENVER. Thank you to the in-kind partners for supporting the study and roll-out event: DualDraw, Footers Catering, The Publishing House, Ratio Beerworks and Total Wine.

Presenting Sponsor