The presence of a large institution of higher education brings with it many additional benefits to a region, such as cultural offerings that may not be available if not for the university. For UAB and Birmingham, this tremendous cultural exposure is provided through The Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts (AEIVA) and the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center (ASC).

The following impact findings for the UAB Arts is the quantification of the spending and employment of UAB Arts. It is important to remember the intangible impacts that UAB Arts and the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center bring to the region and state on a daily basis.


Direct spending by UAB Arts generates economic activity throughout the state. In FY16, the direct spending of UAB Arts in combination with the indirect and induced impacts of dollars’ being re-spent throughout the economy, generated $4.8 million in overall economic impact to the State of Alabama ($2.2 million in direct impact and $2.6 million in indirect and induced impact).


In FY16, UAB Arts directly employed 71 individuals (full-time or part-time positions). This direct employment generates additional spending throughout the region and state that in turn supports additional indirect and induced jobs created when UAB Arts, its employees and visitors spend in the region and state. In total, UAB Arts supports 94 jobs throughout the state of Alabama.


State and local government revenues attributable to the presence of UAB Arts totaled approximately $205,000 in FY16.

AEIVA – AEIVA’s mission is to provide a cultural gateway that enriches and supports accessible learning, research and thinking for the UAB community, Birmingham and beyond, through transformative and challenging exhibitions, engaging programming, and purposeful collecting. Open to the public since January 2014, AEIVA’s exhibitions feature artists of regional, national and international significance, as well as exhibitions of student work including the annual Bachelor of Fine Arts exhibition, featuring graduates of the UAB Department of Art and Art History.

Highlights from AEIVA’s past exhibitions include Warhol: Fabricated; Willie Cole: Transformations; Enrique Martinez Celaya: Small Paintings 1974-2015; a collaborative exhibition with the Birmingham Mayor’s office The Freedom Exhibition: Two Countries One Struggle; and an immersive exhibition, Jessica Angel: Facing the Hyperstructure, installed as a collaboration of a UAB class and student volunteers with visiting artist-in-residence Jessica Angel. AEIVA also cares for and houses a permanent art collection composed of more than 1,200 historical, modern and contemporary works of art.

AEIVA’s exhibitions, programs and tours remain free and open to the public, reinforcing UAB’s commitment to engaging a diverse community. Through programming, AEIVA engages with its members and community with free tours, lectures and gallery talks with visiting artists. In the 2015/16 fiscal year, AEIVA hosted, co-hosted or made its space available for 50 UAB-associated events, including lectures, exhibition receptions, symposiums and cultural events. Additionally, AEIVA hosted 25 tours of the collection and exhibitions for classes, workshops and school groups, not only for UAB students, but for students from area schools including Auburn University, Woodlawn High School, Samford University and Troy High School in Tennessee.

ASC – In September 1996, the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center was founded on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a lasting tribute to the late Mrs. Alys Robinson Stephens, a lifelong patron of the arts and a well-known and beloved member of the Birmingham community. The Center became the home of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra as well as UAB’s Department of Music and Department of Theatre. The Alys Stephens Center quickly became the center for entertainment and arts education in Birmingham and central Alabama and has established itself as the premier center for arts and education in the area with more than 100,000 visitors annually. The Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center serves as a bridge to the arts for the community.

UAB offers a wide range of cultural amenities through the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, including: the UAB Institute for Arts in Medicine (AIM), Meet the Artist series, the PNC Words Are Our World program, summer camps, and ArtPlay educational classes in local schools and throughout the community. Every year, UAB Arts touches the lives of thousands of local residents and attracts visitors from around the globe to experience the sights and sounds of art in Birmingham.

  • Arts in Medicine (AIM) – Through a collaboration between ASC and UAB Medicine, UAB Hospital is one of the first hospitals in Alabama to have a formal Arts in Medicine program. AIM focuses on the needs of the whole person – mind, body and spirit. AIM includes both interactive and passive arts experiences, which can include bedside and workshop activities, or performances and visual art installations in public spaces. In FY16, AIM touched the lives of more than 16,200 individuals through its program.

  • Meet the Artist Series – The Meet the Artist program brings grade-school students to the Alys Stephens Center to see live performances and to interface with artists one-on-one. During the most recent school year, there were 13 shows that brought a total of 6,598 students and teachers from all over the Birmingham area to UAB’s campus. In addition, the mentor program brings arts professionals and children together through pre-talks about various arts before the children and mentors are treated to a show at the ASC. Over the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the mentor program reached 76 children and 47 professionals.

  • PNC Words Are Our World (WAOW) – The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center along with McWane Science Center was granted $500,000 from PNC Foundation to help 2,000 children and their families grow their vocabularies through “Words Are Our World,” an arts and science-based program. “Words Are Our World” introduces six to eight new words each month, through science projects with McWane and through visual arts and movement with the Alys Stephens Center. Neighborhood workshops and hands-on vocabulary lessons are set for every second and third Saturday of the month, along with community-based events and other outreach activities, including center visits, professional performances and summer learning sessions. The Words Are Our World program began in January 2016 and ended in August 2016 after 60 different events. Each month, the WAOW program met four times. WOAW reached 3,967 children and families.

  • ArtPlay Classes – The arts are paramount at the Alys Stephens Center, and ArtPlay encompasses all of the Center’s community education initiatives. Classes range from pre-K (dance, music, painting, etc.) to adult (performance, sound mixing, writing, etc.) and cover a wide breadth of interests throughout the arts.

  • Over the most recent academic year (fall 2015-spring 2016), there were a total of 56 ArtPlay classes, taught by more than 20 teachers, that attracted a total of 386 registrations. Classes last between eight and 12 weeks and meet for approximately one to two hours per week.

  • Interested individuals can also sign up for private lessons through ArtPlay. During the FY16 academic year, a total of 31 people participated in private lessons taught by five different teachers.

  • Summer Camps – Every year, the ASC hosts a series of summer camps for students. ASC Summer Camps include education and activities in the visual arts, performance arts, musical theater and many more disciplines. Counselors work with students every day, culminating in a showcase of their work at the end of the camp. In FY16, there were a total of 120 students in attendance with 10 counselors.

In the FY16 academic year, UAB Arts and the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center attracted more than 100,000 visitors to campus arts events.

  • 59,000 visitors to ticketed arts events

  • 11,000 visitors to non-ticketed events open to the public, presented by ASC

  • 30,000 visitors to non-ticketed events open to the public, presented by external groups

As we have seen, the impact of the arts in the Birmingham community as a result of UAB, AEIVA and the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center is significant, and Birmingham would be significantly different if not for these events and activities.