Strengthening the Creative Economy

The creative economy is a powerful and positive global force. Together, artists, cultural nonprofits, and creative businesses produce and distribute cultural goods and services that impact the economy by generating jobs, revenue, and quality of life.

NEFA strengthens and supports the creative sector not only as a grantmaker, but also by providing research studies, online resources, program-based research, convenings, and awards, which:

  • build the intellectual assets of the cultural community
  • inform cultural decision-making and program development
  • enhance public understanding of how the arts contribute to the vitality of communities

NEFA's Creative Economy Milestones

NEFA has a history of providing arts organizations with data-driven research to be used for advocacy to their local governments and has become the foundation for local and statewide efforts to build New England’s creative economy.

1978 NEFA starts its economic impact studies of New England's nonprofit cultural sector.
mid-1990s NEFA's studies include data from the Internal Revenue Service, revealing that the nonprofit cultural community in New England is a more significant economic force than anyone had yet imagined. Leaders in the region's business, government, cultural, and educational sectors take notice.
1998 The Creative Economy Initiative is formed, bringing together the commercial and nonprofit components of New England's cultural sector.
2000 NEFA partners with the New England Council to define the creative economy and analyze its collective economic impact in The Creative Economy Initiative: The Role of the Arts and Culture in New England's Economic Competitiveness.
2005 NEFA refines long-standing methodology for examining the nonprofit component of the creative economy with New England's Creative Economy: The State of the Public Cultural Sector.
2006 The economic Impact Calculator is added to the New England Cultural Database (now CultureCount) as a pilot project. Users can learn about the input-output economic models that assess economic impact and estimate the economic impact of a single or group of arts/culture nonprofits in Massachusetts.
2007 NEFA updates its 2000 report to offer a reliable, public definition of the occupations and industries of the creative economy in The Creative Economy: A New Definition.
2008 NEFA re-launches the New England Cultural Database (NECD) as CultureCount, the only online comprehensive and consistent data collection resource for New England's creative economy, collected over NEFA's 30-year research history.
2009 Selections of new data are released in New England’s Creative Economy: The Nonprofit Sector, which demonstrates the size and financial statistics of New England's arts and culture nonprofits.
2010 NEFA co-hosts Connecting Creative Communities with the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, a summit where leaders from New England gathered to share strategies for engaging the creative sector and to begin to develop a network of creative communities.


NEFA co-hosts the Creative Communities Exchange with Berkshire Creative and establishes Creative Economy awards of $3,500 each to recognize two exemplary creative economy projects in New England.
NEFA adds organizational examples in the next installment of the report series focusing on economic impact of New England's arts and cultural nonprofits: New England's Creative Economy: Nonprofit Sector Impact.


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