Wyoming Arts Council

Community Development and the Arts

Communities and the Arts

Opera Wyoming performs “A Night at the Opera” at the Broadway Theater in Rock Springs.

Although vast in size at 97,000 square miles, Wyoming has the smallest state population with 578,759 people in 2019 in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019). With an average of just 5.8 persons per square mile, much of Wyoming’s populace is isolated from major services found readily available in higher populated areas of the country. Studies and research conducted for over a decade support that an active and robust program of arts and entertainment options contributes significantly not only to the quality of life for residents and visitors, but it also directly generates economic advantages for the community-from social welfare to local business development to education (Creative Vitality Index, CVI).


A collaboration between the Natrona County Library and ART 321 was instrumental in helping start a dynamic weaving group in Casper.

The arts industry builds communities by promoting economic development and social welfare. In 2015, the nation’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion of economic activity—$63.8 billion in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $102.5 billion in event-related expenditures by their audiences (Arts & Economic Prosperity V, Americans for the Arts). In 2017, the Wyoming arts and cultural industry was directly responsible for creating 11,992 jobs, ranking 19th among all states in Arts and Cultural Production employment growth (U.S. Bureau of Economic Growth, 2017). For a more comprehensive overview of Wyoming arts and cultural economic activity visit here for more information.

Cultural Tourism


The arts function as a cornerstone of tourism, as arts travelers stay longer and spend more while on vacation. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that the percentage of international travelers including museum visits on their trip has grown steadily since 2003 from 18 to 28 percent. Additionally, arts attendees who live outside the county in which the arts event takes place spend twice as much as their local counterparts ($39.96 vs. $17.42) (Americans for the Arts). With tourism being one of Wyoming’s main non-mineral resources for funding, developing local arts industries is a valuable and necessary investment because a vibrant local arts industry has the potential to provide valuable revenue for local businesses and the community.

Social and Individual Development

Students participate in the University of Wyoming’s String Project.

In addition to economic development, University of Pennsylvania researchers have demonstrated that a high concentration of the arts leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, increased child welfare, and lower poverty rates. A vibrant arts community also ensures that young people are not left to be raised solely in a pop culture and tabloid marketplace. The arts also have a demonstrable impact on personal wellness.  Nearly one-half of the nation’s health care institutions provide arts programming for patients, families, and staff. Seventy-eight percent of these institutions indicate that they deliver these programs because of the healing benefits to patients through shorter hospital stays, better pain management, and less medication (Americans for the Arts).

 Building a Strong Workforce

July 2018 SAGE Kids Camp: Students display their artwork during camp.

While the arts play a major role in building local economies, they also factor into education and workforce development. Education in the Arts prepares students with strong skills in life, school and work. Learning in the Arts, both standalone and integrated, provides students with deep learning and the development of critical thinking skills, creativity and innovation–which have been named as keys to success in the 21st Century workforce. Creativity skills enable students to discover new ideas and opportunities that contribute to innovation. Linkedin recently undertook a study of hundreds of thousands of job postings to find out what companies are looking for most. According to their results, the number one soft skill companies want in 2019 is creativity (Source).

A global study by Adobe found that businesses which invest in creativity experience:

  • Increased employee productivity (78 percent)
  • Have satisfied customers (80 percent) and produce a better customer experience (78 percent)
  • Foster innovation (83 percent) and are financially successful (73 percent Source)

2020 Art and Accessibility for All: Resources to Help Ensure Accessibility of Your Virtual Events Webinar 

For more information about how the arts can help your community thrive please call 307-630-3918.