Erie Vital Signs

Presence of Arts and Cultural Activities: Nonprofit Arts Organizations per 100,000 population

Recent Performance

Erie County has approximately the same number of arts organizations per capita as the nation. Erie’s value is slightly higher, in fact. Erie is holding its own on this measure, despite the relatively small size of the Erie metro area.

The Basics

As the name says, this indicator shows the number of nonprofit arts organizations per 100,000 population.

Why is this important?

This indicator is a measure of the presence of arts activities in the community. More organizations per capita suggests that there is more art happening.

The Details

This indicator is one of the Urban Institute’s “Tier One” indicators, meaning that these indicators use data from respected sources, that are available annually down to the metro area level, and are comparable across areas. To calculate this variable, we used data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) database on the number of organizations in selected NTEE categories. We then used population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates program (rather than data from the American Community Survey, which is less accurate) to calculate the per capita measures. We adjusted these to a “per 100,000 residents” basis to make the numbers a little more user-friendly.

The Nitty-Gritty Details

This indicator makes use of the Urban Institute’s recommended procedure, which uses the following National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities Core Codes (NTEE-CC), from the 2003 National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) database, for our Nonprofit Arts Organization per 10,000 population measure. (The source is given below.) Subsets of the NTEE “Arts, culture and humanities” grouping:
• Support organizations (codes A01, A02, A03, A05, A11, A12, and A19)
• Arts and culture organizations (codes A20, A23, A24, A25, and A26)
• Media and communications (codes A30, A31, A32, A33, A34, and A40)
• Museums (codes A50, A51, A52, A54, A56, A57)
• Performing arts (codes A60, A61, A62, A63, A65, A68, A69, A6A, A6B, A6C, and A6E)
• Other arts, culture, and humanities nonprofits (codes A70, A80, A82, A90, and A99)
Note: this list excludes categories A27 (Community Celebrations) and A84 (Commemorative Events) since those are included in the “Community Celebrations, Fairs, and Festivals” indicator.

The NCCS database is generally recognized as the broadest and most accurate file for nonprofit research. It starts with the IRS Business Master File of all active organizations that have registered for tax-exempt status with the IRS. Variables such as NTEE codes and FIPS (geographical) codes are added by NCCS to provide additional research capabilities. More information is available here

But it is far from a “perfect” database. As the Urban Institute points out: “Data from nonprofits’ IRS 990 tax forms provide regularly collected and publicly available information about revenue and expenditures. These data have been further assembled into more analytically ready information by the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) at the Urban Institute. The main advantage of the NCCS database is that it provides the most reliable regular source of information on nonprofit organizations. Often acknowledged limitations of IRS 990 data include the fact that organizations with annual incomes (gross receipts) of less than $25,000 are not required to file Form 990, that inactive organizations may remain in the dataset, and that religious institutions (i.e., churches or temples) are not required to register with the IRS. In addition, various programs of large nonprofits are aggregated under the main purpose or mission of the organization.” (Jackson et al, p. 68.)


This indicator has no subcategories.

Peer Areas

This indicator include data on Erie County and the United States as a whole.




Additional Studies and Research

Maria Rosario Jackson, Florence Kabwasa-Green, and Joaquín Herranz. Cultural Vitality in Communities: Interpretation and Indicators. Culture, Creativity, and Communities Program, The Urban Institute, 2006. Online here

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