Arts and culture generated $6 billion for the Texas economy in 2021, according to a recent report from the Texas Cultural Trust. 

The nonprofit, which is focused on increasing awareness and support for the arts, issued its first “State of the Arts” report in 2008 and releases a new impact study every two years.

The report has recently expanded to include the health and social impacts of the arts in addition to quantifying its economic output throughout the state. 

“What we’ve found is that this is a tremendous resource not only for our elected officials, but for arts educators, nonprofits, parents and the general public to understand and quantify why we need to consider the arts,” the group’s CEO, Heidi Marquez Smith said.

“Texas ranks 42nd in the country in public funding for the arts, which sadly is not something to be proud of and something that we should try to remedy.”

The group hopes this report can help change that. 

The report also notes that the arts and culture industry has grown more than 30% over the last decade, employing about 845,000 people across the state or, put another way, representing about 1 in 15 Texas jobs. 

Travis James is an economist and is the vice president of TXP, Inc. He has worked with the Cultural Trust for more than 10 years and has prepared over 200 economic and tax revenue reports for organizations across the country.  

James relies on publicly available datasets for his analysis like taxable sales as tracked by the Texas Comptroller and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ quarterly census of employment and wages.

Even though these data sets are reliable, they do not always include every element the group sets out to measure. For example, the quarterly census focuses on employers who are paying into unemployment insurance, but that tends to leave a lot of gig workers behind. 

But other data, like IRS filings, can help fill in information gaps on gig workers who might not show up elsewhere. 

“We focused on credible numbers that we could all stand behind. They’ll be reproducible year after year and other people can double check our math,” James said. “There’s not a black box we’re using.”

In an additional report, the group also examined four different state-designated cultural districts across Texas, including one in Fort Worth.

The city of Fort Worth gained a second cultural district in 2020 when the state added the Near Southside to its list, but the aforementioned report focused on the city’s original Cultural District west of downtown

It found that the area brings in nearly 2.5 million people per year and employs about 6,000 people at the 540 businesses located within the district.

Over the past five years, sales tax collection in the area has increased by about 18% and in 2021 the district generated $1.9 million in sales tax revenue, according to the report.

In addition to economic data, the Trust also collaborated with health and education experts to analyze data on everything from music therapy’s efficacy in decreasing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and educational reports about arts education being correlated with higher attendance rates and increasing the likelihood of children attending college.

“The arts and cultural industry is all around us, and it’s something that we shouldn’t ignore,” Marquez Smith said. “It’s an industry that has a tremendous trickle down effect, if you will, and something that is extremely important and can amplify not only our economy but our education and our health and wellbeing … and making people aware (of that) is extremely important.”

Editor’s note: This post was updated at 9:38 a.m. to clarify a quote.

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...