Arts and Entertainment Business

Arts organizations represent multi-million dollar industry in Augusta

(Featured photo is of Genna Styles-Lyas at the Arts Day Luncheon Nov. 9. Dustin Turner/Augusta Good News)

The aesthetic beauty of Sacred Heart Cultural Center provided the perfect backdrop for the Greater Augusta Arts Council’s annual Arts Day Luncheon, Nov. 9.

Those in attendance kicked off the program by raising a glass as a special toast to artists Rhian Swain, Leslie Hamrick and Lillie Morris, who are being inducted into the National Association of Women Artists (NAWA). 

The highlight of the event, Dr. Genna Styles-Lyas presented the results of the 2022 Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 Survey. Styles-Lyas is the Director of AEP6 Community Engagement and Equity Americans for the Arts in Washington D.C.

The survey, conducted locally by the Arts Council from August 2022 to summer 2023, showed impressive results, she said. The Council collected 787 individual surveys and 39 organization surveys. AEP6 was built upon its predecessors from 1994, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017 by quantifying the impact of the arts on jobs, government revenues, and tourism. AEP is the largest study of its kind and results have shown that the arts are more than just a formidable economic presence.

“Drum roll, please,” Styles-Lyas said. “We found that in 2022, arts here in Augusta is a $24.6 million industry.”  

Among the results:

  • Of that $24.6 million, arts organizations spend $12.1 million and audiences spend $12.5 million.
  • The arts and culture in Augusta supports 523 jobs and raises $2.8 million in government tax revenue.
  • 3,835 arts volunteers provided 84,832 volunteer hours in 2022.
  • Audiences were 59% local; 41% non-local.
  • Non-local events attendees spent an average of $134.80 per person in hotel costs.
A display at the Nov. 9, 2023 Arts Day Luncheon. Dustin Turner/Augusta Good News

For the first time, the 2022 survey asked questions to gauge social impact of the arts in Augusta. Responses included: 

  • 72 percent of responders agree that arts and culture provide shared experiences with people of different races, ethnicities, ages, beliefs, etc.
  • 60 percent said arts and culture help them better understand other cultures in their community
  • 90.9 percent said: “My attendance is my way of ensuring this activity or venue is preserved for future generations.”

“You can continue to promote support the arts,” Styles Lyas said. “Attend an event. Tell the story. Tell the story over and over again.”

Augusta Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Margaret Woodard closed the program.

“We are very thankful for the Arts Council and all the arts organizations in Augusta,” she said. “Your daily efforts ensure Augusta continues to grow and thrive. A creative community spurs a creative economy.” 

For more information on the arts in Augusta and the local AEP6 survey, go to For more information about the survey, go to

Dustin Turner is a freelance writer for Augusta Magazine, Augusta Business Daily and Augusta Good News. He is the marketing director of Aiken Community Theatre. Subscribe to the Augusta Good News’ newsletter here.

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