The Arts and Denver’s Economic Vitality

The arts work.

The arts are a major contributor to economic activity both locally and nationally, generating jobs and tax revenue. Nationally, arts and culture represent 4.2% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a sum of $704 billion in industry expenditures. This is larger than travel and tourism, agriculture, and transportation industries.[1]

A dynamic cultural sector contributes to the attraction and retention of workers and businesses. Cultural tourism attracts visitors from the region and beyond. And it’s not just ticket sales. Attendees at arts events spend on meals at our local restaurants, and pay for parking and babysitters. All of this adds up to significant spending that ripples through the economy.

[1] Americans for the Arts. The arts and economic growth. 2013.
A big boost from the arts infographic
Source: Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, Economic Activity Study of Metro Denver Culture. 2013.
Crowd Bomba Estereo
Rino Art
Why Arts?

The arts attract.

Denver is often among the top of the rankings of the best places to live. And, for good reason. We are justifiably known for extraordinary natural beauty and recreation, but we are also home to a thriving creative economy. Denver is the 22nd most populated city in the nation – and growing rapidly – but ranks #6 for arts related businesses.[1] In fact, Colorado ranks #1 in the nation for visits to arts and cultural facilities.[2]

People of all ages, but especially millennials, are streaming to the metro area to engage in the high quality arts, cultural and scientific scene. City neighborhoods are being revitalized by inviting creative businesses and artistic endeavors as the foundation of growth and development. Overwhelmingly, Denver residents believe that arts, culture and creativity contribute to the vitality of the city.[3] That is why a vision plan – The Next Stage – is underway for the transformation of the 12-acre Denver Performing Arts Complex (DPAC), into an even more vibrant center of diverse cultural activity in the heart of downtown Denver.

[1] Arts-Related Businesses Per 1,000 Residents; 2015 Creative Industries, 100 Most Populated U.S. Cities, American for the Arts.
[2] Denver Arts & Venues. Imagine 2020. Denver’s Cultural Plan. 2014.
[3] Denver Arts & Venues. Imagine 2020. Denver’s Cultural Plan. 2014.

The arts unite.

What was an area considered mostly industrial and scattered with run-down, abandoned warehouses, is now one of Denver’s most economically and culturally vibrant neighborhoods. RiNo (River North) Art District, located just north of downtown, is Denver’s fastest growing neighborhood and home to a thriving arts community that is setting the tone and foundation for new commercial and residential development, creative businesses and artistic endeavors.

RiNo brings together a diverse group of stakeholders who have a vested interest in River North, including artists, businesses, property owners, developers, residents and City of Denver leadership and staff. Investment from public and private sectors is substantially contributing to area growth, while creative businesses are helping to establish a vibrant and economically strong neighborhood. With art at its core, RiNo works together to set the stage for 21st century life. As is often the case in this type of growth, the community must also address how to avoid displacement of artists and creative businesses, and other neighborhood residents and assets, resulting from rising real estate values.

Learn more about RiNo at