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Stats about Knoxville, Tennessee's Arts & Culture Scene

(This is part of a series of posts coming out of the Network of Ensemble Theaters' MicroFest USA: KY/TN that happened on October 25-28, 2012.)

Knoxville's home to 300 artists and more than fifty nonprofit arts, culture and heritage organizations.


The diversity and number of Knoxville’s arts and culture industry per capita is second to none.


More people annually visit Knoxville’s 20 plus museums and historic homes than attend all University of Tennessee home football games combined.

An arts district flourishes in downtown Knoxville where there are more galleries, historic landmarks, museums, and theatres than any other mid-size city in the Southeast.

Eighty-six percent of East Tennesseans believe having arts and culture events in their communities make life better.

A full 84 percent of business owners and white collar recruits around the country say they look for arts activities for their families when considering relocation. The diversity and number of Knoxville’s arts and culture industry per capita is second to none.

Nationally, the nonprofit arts employ 2.7 percent of the American workforce—more than agriculture.

The arts account for 6 percent of the US gross national product—more than the entire construction industry.

In Knoxville artists and arts and culture organizations comprise a 30 million dollar industry that employs more than 1,000 people full time.

The spin-off in spending from their activities benefit restaurants, parking garages, suppliers, and contracted jobs and swells both the City and County’s sales tax and property tax collections. For example, the run of one theatre’s musical in Knoxville generated $731,000 in dining, concessions, tickets, parking, gas, childcare, and more.

Tourism income that this industry helps generate saves every Knoxville family $308 in taxes by attracting more than $500 million dollars each year.

Knoxville Skyline
Downtown Knoxville.

Downtown Knoxville could appropriately be called the city the arts re-built since nearly twenty historic buildings within the central business improvement district have been redeveloped and animated by arts and culture uses.

Compared to the national average of 27 percent, a full 49 percent of Tennesseans say that arts and culture are important to their lives.

The local arts and culture industry cooperates with many other sectors such as the Knoxville Convention and Visitors Bureau, local hospitals, business leadership development programs, social service agencies, faith-based institutions, and above all schools, to reach into and serve the Knoxville community.

By partnering with the Knox County School system, arts and culture organizations here deliver more than 100,000 hours of education to our children at no charge to the county, the parent, or the child.

As a result of their work, Knoxville’s children who participate in arts and culture are better educated, score higher on standardized tests, and realize an increase of 400 percent in their creativity ratings. Students with four years of music coursework scored on average 49 points higher on the combined verbal and math portions of the SAT. Visual art students scored an average of 47 points higher in math and 31 points higher on verbal sections of the ACT.

Nearly thirty of Knoxville’s arts and culture organizations join in the Penny4Arts program providing free admission for every child in Knox County to attend special events and activities during the school year. For details visit www.penny4arts.com.

Visit www.moretoknoxville.com for a listing of Knoxville’s arts and heritage organizations.


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