Arts Sector Makes $9.7 Billion Impact on S.C. Economy

6 February 2018


COLUMBIA, S.C. – The jobs, tax revenue, and spending by South Carolina’s arts-related sector add $9.7 billion to the state’s economy, according to a new economic impact study released today by the S.C. Arts Commission.

Additional findings in “South Carolina’s Arts-Related Economic Cluster” include that the arts:

  • support 115,000 jobs,
  • are responsible for $3.8 billion in labor income,
  • and generate $269 million in tax revenue.

According to the study, the arts form a cluster like other large sectors of the state’s economy. Along with manufacturing and agriculture, “the arts-related cluster is a linchpin of state and local economic development.” It goes on to conclude that, “from any perspective, these are considerable economic benefits.” The study was authored by Douglas P. Woodward, Ph.D.

Woodward examined 2014 data from the U.S. census and economic analysis bureaus and commerce department to complete the report, analyzing the S.C. economy associated with the arts, design, crafts, and related activities. He is the director of the Division of Research and professor of economics at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

“It’s certainly appropriate for state leaders to pay attention to the arts as a viable economic driver just as they do agriculture, manufacturing, and other key sectors,” S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said. “This report gives context to the work by artists and arts organizations all over the state and connects those efforts to S.C.’s creative economy.”

The study utilized an economic multiplier model to determine the extent of the arts-related cluster’s impact. Researchers first analyzed the number of direct jobs in the sector and then assessed its economic impact using a model of South Carolina’s economic linkages – how spending in one sector spreads. Music and arts organizations, for example, hire workers who spend money in the local economy, leading to a ripple-effect of further income and spending through various other sectors. The concept of an economic multiplier is an accepted and widely practiced technique used to assess the total impact of regional business activities.

For context, a recent study on the USC statewide system reported a $5.5 billion impact. Leading sectors in the state include agribusiness at $41 billion, automotive at $27 billion, and tourism at $20 billion.

The complete study is available from the Arts Commission website at:



Dr. Douglas P. Woodward is the director of the Division of Research and professor of economics at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. He earned his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Texas in 1986. Dr. Woodward’s primary research interests are in regional economic development. He has published numerous academic articles in economics and regional science journals.

Dr. Woodward has conducted sponsored economic research in the United States, China, Morocco, South Africa, Kenya and elsewhere. Over his career, Dr. Woodward has received many grants and awards. He has testified before local, state and national government committees and has presented his research at many conferences around the world, including the prestigious World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzer- land. Dr. Woodward has been quoted frequently in the national press and has often appeared on television and radio programs discussing economic development and related topics.


The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances.

Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants, and leadership initiatives in three areas:

  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.

Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit or call (803) 734-8696.