Rural Prosperity Through the Arts & Creative Sector

A partnership between NGA Solutions: The Center for Best Practices, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) introduced an extensive body of new economic research on the creative sector. Evidence is building that the creative sector is an especially potent asset in rural places. Research by the NEA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service finds that, since the Great Recession: 

  • Two out of three rural businesses reported that arts and entertainment were important to attracting and retaining workers.
  • Rural counties that were home to performing arts organizations experienced population growth three times faster than other rural counties.
  • Rural counties housing performing arts organizations provided residents with higher household incomes than other rural counties.
  • Rural counties with design-driven businesses recovered more quickly from the recession, showing more growth in weekly earnings over a four-year period following the Great Recession.

Given those positive economic contributions, NGA Solutions is helping governors to capitalize on the creative industries and tap into proven strategies for bringing economic vibrancy back to rural communities. 


Rural Prosperity Through the Arts & Creative Sector: A Rural Action Guide for Governors and States offers actions for governors and states in addition to around a hundred examples and process steps. 

Learn more about rural arts.