Federal analysis: Arts, culture add $700B to U.S. economy

WASHINGTON — Creative industries including Hollywood and broadcasting contribute more to the U.S. economy than previously thought, the government said Monday in its first official analysis of the arts and culture sector’s economic value.

The report from the National Endowment for the Arts and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows arts and culture contributed more than $698 billion to the economy — about 4.32 percent of U.S. goods and services. The study of the creative sector’s contribution to U.S. gross domestic product is based on 2012 data, the most recent figures available, and includes nonprofit, for-profit and government-funded programs.

Six industries account for the bulk of arts and culture production, according to the analysis. They include broadcasting, movies and videos, publishing, retail sales, performing arts and advertising. Analysts found 4.7 million workers were employed in arts and culture production. Looking back more than a decade, the creative sector’s production hit its peak in 2002.

In 2012, arts and culture surpassed construction by $112 billion, as well as transportation, travel and tourism and agriculture. But the creative sector was smaller than the health care and retail industries when compared with their economic production.

“It’s a formidable presence from the economic point of view,” said Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Here is an opportunity to understand how the arts infuse our lives.”

The new findings are significantly larger than a preliminary estimate of arts production released in 2013. That estimate showed U.S. creative industries generated about $504 billion. The new analysis adds architectural services, online ticket vendors and more “entertainment originals” in movies, TV and book publishing to the creative industries that were not included in the previous estimate.

Arts and culture also contribute to a trade surplus with more exports than imports from other nations, said Sunil Iyengar, research director for the National Endowment for the Arts.

“A lot of consumption is going on outside our borders of American-made products — home-grown art, if you will,” he said. “So that’s about $25 billion of trade surplus, and that’s rare for many industries and sectors within the U.S. economy.”

Researchers also released the latest national Survey of Public Participation in the Arts results from 37,000 adults interviewed as a supplement to the Census Bureau’s 2012 population survey. Slightly more than half of Americans attended a live visual or performing arts activity, according to the survey. There have been declines in attendance since 2002 at art museums and live performances of music, theater and dance.

States with significantly higher-than-average performing arts attendance included California, Connecticut, Colorado, North Dakota, Kansas, Maryland, Rhode Island and Washington. Four cities with especially high performing arts attendance were Denver, San Francisco, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. At the other end, Georgia, Alabama and Florida had significantly lower performing arts attendance than average.

Researchers found 31 million adults who were interested in an event but did not attend for some reason. Those with young children said lack of time was the biggest barrier. Older adults and those with disabilities said the location was too difficult to reach.

Meanwhile, 71 percent of Americans were using electronic media to connect with art.

“We’re seeing that the ways people are engaged in the arts have expanded,” Chu said. “That’s a really big deal.”


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