The arts sector’s contribution to S.C. economy tops $14 billion

New S.C. Arts Commission report shows 45% growth in five years


COLUMBIA, S.C. – A new South Carolina Arts Commission economic impact report using 2021 data estimates an annual $14.1 billion impact is made on the state’s economy by the arts-related economic cluster.

Like other large sectors of the state’s economy, arts and creativity form a cluster. The research reviewed 2021 data from the portions of the state economy associated with the performing arts, individual artists and artisans, design arts, crafts and further related activities.

The SCAC engaged Joseph C. Von Nessen, Ph.D., research economist with the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, for the report. He analyzed data from the U.S. census and economic analysis bureaus and commerce department. The research discovered across-the-board increases in the arts-related economic cluster’s annual economic impact in South Carolina from the previous study released in 2018.

  • 123,550 jobs paying $5.7 billion. That is the total number of local jobs supported by the arts-related cluster. This level of employment represents 5.5 percent of the total employment base in South Carolina, generating $5.7 billion in wages and salaries. It is a 7.5 percent increase from the 2018 study.
  • $360.2 million in estimated annual tax revenue generated for the state of South Carolina that arises from the arts-related cluster. That is a 33 percent increase from the 2018 study.
  • A $14.1 billion total economic impact, which represents both the direct and indirect demand generated by the local spending activity of all arts-related businesses, their suppliers, and their employees. This is a 45 percent increase from the 2018 study ($9.7 billion).

“This report illustrates clearly the powerful impact of our state’s investment in the arts,” SCAC Executive Director David Platts said. “The Arts Commission currently receives an annual appropriation of around $8 million, 70 percent of which is returned directly to artists and arts organizations in communities across the State in the form of grants which fund arts experiences for our citizens, fuel the creativity of emerging and established individual artists, and address pandemic-related learning loss for students. And the resulting economic activity generates more than $360 million in tax revenue which comes back to the state. It is truly a win-win for all South Carolinians.”

The SCAC is seeking to increase its recurring base appropriation by $3 million starting in FY2024 to sustain and grow arts learning programs. Much of those are directed by its Arts Grow SC program, a federally-funded partnership with the South Carolina Department of Education. Funding for the three-year partnership will expire after FY24, and additional state funding would allow its work with national, state and local partners to continue.

“Since it began, we have been proud of the work accomplished by Arts Grow SC. The arts, and especially arts learning, do so much to help our students learn to be creative problem-solvers. We are especially proud that this work reaches rural and underserved communities because the Arts Commission works to ensure everyone has access to the arts’ benefits,” SCAC Board Chair Dee Crawford said.

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.

The complete report is available from the SCAC website:

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences.

A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in artist development, arts industry, arts learning, creative placemaking, and folklife and traditional arts. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for #Arts4SC and #SCartists content.

South Carolina Arts Commission News Release, Media Contact: Jason L. Rapp, Communications Director. or 803.734.8899