Arts and Economic Development

The positive impact of the arts in Georgia’s communities.
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The Role of Arts-based Economic Development Strategies in Georgia Communities

Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) in partnership with the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) is proud to share a series of industry impact reports – collectively titled “Leveraging Public Investment in the Arts.” The case studies below illuminate the positive impact of the arts as an economic development tool in Georgia’s communities. Community projects that are featured in the report were selected based on population, geography, demographics, resources and specific strategies employed by each city.

Through these case studies, we are able to demonstrates the importance of the utility of the arts as a method to promote tourism, downtown development, business development, entrepreneurism, community identity and quality of life throughout Georgia.

Combined Reports:

Leveraging Public Investment in the Arts: The Role of Arts-based Economic Development Strategies in Georgia Communities
Leveraging Public Investment in the Arts: the Role of Arts-based Economic Development Strategies in Rural Georgia Communities

Individual Case Studies:


Athens’ downtown was dying in the 1980s, but music reinvigorated the area and created a new identity for the college town. Thus began the city’s dedicated efforts to use the arts to increase tourism and attract new businesses.

Blue Ridge:

The city of Blue Ridge and Fannin County both nurtured the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association, which now brings creative artists to the area and helps create the community’s distinct eclectic identity. In addition, careful curation of potential businesses downtown has led to one-of-a-kind artisan shops. 

Buena Vista/Summerville:

Two rural communities have worked to restore the unique creations of their hometown artists, which have resulted in tremendous increases in tourists visiting the sites. 



The Clarkston Community Center helps recent refugees learn to make a living selling their handmade work.


A partnership between the city and Andrew College’s art departments led to an exciting downtown revitalization.


The city took an active role in developing the downtown arts community by making the Red Clay Theatre the lynchpin of their redevelopment efforts.


The local arts alliance partnered with government officials to recruit an Atlanta theatre company to move to their city while also creating an art gallery with shipping containers.


Restoring the local historic theatre is the first step in Springfield’s plan to bring people to their downtown.


Statesboro utilized public and private funding to turn an abandoned downtown space into an arts center, which is now the “heart of the community.”


An ongoing partnership between the city and the Thomasville Arts Center has resulted a community that has used the arts to differentiate itself, thus attracting young entrepreneurs to its designated creative district.


An idea for a photography show about the vanishing South has turned into an ongoing annual event that raises thousands of dollars for the restoration of local historic buildings.

If you would like a copy of the report sent to you, please contact Allen Bell at