Cultural Arts

Asheville is a place with a deep but constantly evolving arts and cultural heritage. The City of Asheville's Cultural Arts Division is dedicated to supporting the crucial role art and heritage play in our inquisitive and creative community.

With the addition of the Cultural Arts Division to its Parks and Recreation Department, the City of Asheville confirmed its commitment to supporting and enhancing the arts in Asheville. The division supports a creative community by enriching and encouraging a healthy mind through exposure to art and ideas which hand-in-hand with the department’s philosophy of fostering physical health by providing parks and recreational opportunities.

The Cultural Arts Division oversees some of Asheville's already well known and popular festivals, including the widely attended Bele Chere Festival, as well as the nationally-accredited WNC Nature Center. Recently, the division has expanded its reach with new initiatives like Easel Rider – Asheville’s Mobile Art Lab and smART Space, enhancing its interaction with artists and the community. The division also fosters artistic growth in the community using tools like grant opportunities and professional development programs for established and budding artists alike.

Public Art & the Urban Trail
Easel Rider Mobile Art Lab
Cultural Development
smART space
Street Performers / Busking
Cultural Arts - Festivals
WNC Nature Center


Click to see the Economic Impact ChartArts and Economic Prosperity IV was conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. Established in 1960, we are dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts.

The City of Asheville Cultural Arts Division served as the lead study partner for Buncombe County, one of 182 study partners in the United States. Arts & Economic Prosperity IV is the third Arts & Economic Prosperity study that Buncombe County arts and culture organizations have participated in with Americans for the Arts.

Nonprofit Arts & Culture Organizations Generate $43.7 Million in Economic Impact for Buncombe County

Asheville, NC — The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $43.7 million in annual economic activity in Buncombe County. This spending — $16.9 million by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and an additional $26.8 million in event-related spending by their audiences—supports 1,427 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $32.5 million in household income to local residents, and delivers $4.8 million in local and state government revenue, according to recently released findings from a nation-wide study released this week.

The findings are from Arts & Economic Prosperity IV — a national impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts. The City of Asheville Cultural Arts Division served as the study partner with Americans for the Arts and collaborated with local nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences in gathering the data for the study.

“We were pleased to lead the study for Buncombe County,” says Diane Ruggiero, Superintendent of Cultural Arts for the City of Asheville. “It is great to see in the results of the study that even in a down economy the arts are a thriving industry in Buncombe County.”

The new study is part of the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States - led by Americans for the Arts in partnership with nonprofit arts and culture organizations across the nation. Copies of the study can be found here.

Statewide, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $1.2 billion in direct economic activity in North Carolina, supporting more than 43,600 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $119 million in revenue for local governments and the State of North Carolina.

“We all understand and appreciate the intrinsic values of the arts. This study shows that arts organizations are also businesses. They employ people locally, purchase goods and services from within the community, are members of the chamber of commerce and local convention and visitor bureau’s and are key participants in marketing their cities and regions,” said Wayne Martin, executive director of the N.C. Arts Council.

“Because arts organizations are strongly rooted in their community the jobs they provide are, on the whole, local and cannot be shipped overseas,” Martin added.

Nationally, the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study reveals that the nonprofit arts industry produced $135.2 billion in economic activity during 2010. This spending—$61.1 billion by nonprofit arts and culture organizations plus an additional $74.1 billion by their audiences—supported 4.1 million full-time equivalent jobs and generated $22.3 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues.

“This study shines a much-needed light on the vital role the arts play in stimulating and sustaining economic development,” says Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Contrary to popular belief, the arts are a bustling industry that supports a plethora of diverse jobs, generates significant revenues for local businesses and to federal, state and local governments and provides quality of life that positions communities to compete in our 21st century creative economy.”

In addition to spending by organizations, the nonprofit arts and culture industry leverages almost $27 million in event-related spending by its audiences. As a result of attending a cultural event, attendees often eat dinner in local restaurants, pay for parking, buy gifts and souvenirs, and pay a babysitter. What’s more, attendees from out of town often stay overnight in a local hotel.


For more information about the Public Art & the Urban Trail contact:
Asheville Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts
Phone: 828-259-5800

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