State of the Arts and Culture

An Economic Assessment of New Hampshire’s Arts and Culture Industries
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 1516-07
Monday, May 2, 2016

New Hampshire is a state of long-held cultural values and a strong history of arts from performance to design. Evaluating how these massive assets contribute to the economy and how the state can continue to provide an environment where people and firms can flourish in these fields is important to the long-term health of the state economy. Existing reports show that New Hampshire’s arts and cultural sector far exceeds national averages in economic impact. Non-profits alone contribute over $115 million dollars to the economy annually, with an additional $6 million in government revenues. Although the state government’s direct per capita arts spending (via the biennial Budget process) is significantly lower than in other states, New Hampshire arts are thriving the state has a large regional influence in terms of attracting out-of-state audiences. Continuing the practices that create this excellence and adapting to changes in the industry are important to remaining competitive in this sector.


To better understand the current environment for arts and culture, a telephone survey approach was used to gain in-depth qualitative data on what is helping and hampering those actors in the state today through interviews with arts stakeholders.  Stratification to individual, non-profit, and for-profit enterprises allowed greater granularity of data. These surveys were conducted over the course of the winter and then assessed to uncover broader patterns that reveal sectoral trends as well as the current state of the arts statewide. Overall, the findings reflect that the arts and culture industries are facing similar challenges and opportunities to the rest of the state. The increasing role of technology and networks presents firms and artisans with new tools to overcome barriers of distance and independent operation through greater online exposure and alliances that leverage their collective impact. An aging population and expanding Boston urban market provide large potential future demand for live arts in the region, but these potential new audiences will require infrastructure and tax structure changes if the organizations attracting them are to remain profitable. New Hampshire has been fortunate to be home to many cultural and artistic endeavors, but unless it continues to prioritize this industry and its unparalleled ability to draw audiences and residents to the state, those same people may begin to turn to alternatives elsewhere.