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Facts & Figures on the Creative Economy

Investment and Participation

  • The value of arts and cultural production in America in 2015 was $763.6 billion, amounting to 4.2% of gross domestic product. The arts contribute more to the national economy than do the construction, mining, utilities, insurance, and accommodation and food services industries.

Sources: National Endowment for the Arts, The Arts Contribute More Than $760 Billion to the U.S. Economy, and U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Value Added by Industry as a Percentage of Gross Domestic Product, 2017

  • Between 1998 and 2015, the arts and culture sector’s contribution to GDP grew by 40%.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Data for 1998-2015, 2018

  • The United States had a $20 billion trade surplus in arts and cultural commodities in 2015. America exported $63.6 billion and imported $42.6 billion worth of arts and culture.

Sources: National Endowment for the Arts, The Arts Contribute More Than $760 Billion to the U.S. Economy, and U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Data for 1998-2015, 2018

  • Independent artists, performing arts companies and performing arts presenters added a combined total of $50 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Data for 1998-2015, 2018

  • America’s nonprofit arts industry generates $166.3 billion in economic activity every year, resulting in $227.5 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues.

Source: Americans for the Arts, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts & Cultural Organizations & Their Audiences, 2017

  • Spending by arts audiences on goods and services in addition to admission tickets—such as food, lodging and gifts—annually generates more than $102.5 billion in revenue.

Source: Americans for the Arts, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts & Cultural Organizations & Their Audiences, 2017

  • In 2015, 66% the country’s adult population attended a live visual or performing arts activity.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, Results from the Annual Arts Basic Survey (2013-2015) , 2016

The Creative Work Force

  • There were 4.9 million arts and cultural sector jobs in America in 2015—accounting for 3% of all U.S. jobs—which collectively paid workers a total of $372 billion.

Sources: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Arts and Culture Grow for Fourth Straight Year, 2018, and U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Data for 1998-2015, 2018

  • Arts and cultural employment in the United States grew by 2.1% in 2015.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Arts and Culture Grow for Fourth Straight Year, 2018

  • For every arts job created in America in 2015, an additional 1.61 positions outside of the arts were created as a result.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Data for 1998-2015, 2018

  • Artists are highly entrepreneurial. They are 3.5 times more likely than the total U.S. work force to be self-employed.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, Artists and Arts Workers in the United States, 2011

  • Artists are highly educated. Artists have higher levels of education when compared to the U.S. work force as a whole.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, Artists and Arts Workers in the United States, 2011

  • More than half of the artists in the United States (54%) are employed by the private, for-profit sector.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, Artists and Arts Workers in the United States, 2011

  • Most U.S. employers (97%) say creativity is increasingly important to them. Eighty-five percent of employers looking to hire creative people say they are unable to find the applicants they seek.

Source: The Conference Board, Ready to Innovate, 2008

Creative Places and Innovation

  • Arts and cultural goods and services drive industries primarily focused on producing copyrighted content, accounting for just over half of their combined $1.17 billion value.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Data for 1998-2015, 2018

  • Goals of creative placemaking investments are associated with GDP growth. Cities with high levels of community attachment—the degree of loyalty and affection residents have for their community—also have high GDP growth over time.

Source: Knight Foundation, Soul of the Community project

  • Creative places are innovative places. The presence of arts districts has been shown to increase the production of media arts patents.

Source: Arts Districts, Universities, and the Rise of Media Arts, Douglas S. Noonan and Shiri M. Breznitz, School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, presented at the National Endowment for the Arts and Brookings Institution’s The Arts, New Growth Theory, and Economic Development Symposium, 2012

Cultural Tourism

  • Each year, 76% of all American leisure travelers (about 130 million adults) participate in cultural activities while traveling, contributing more than $171 billion to the U.S. economy.

Source: Americans for the Arts, Cultural Tourism: Attracting Visitors and Their Spending, 2014

  • American cultural travelers spend on average 60% more than other types of travelers, about $1,300 per trip compared to $800 per trip. Generally, they also take more trips per year than noncultural travelers.

Source: Americans for the Arts, Cultural Tourism: Attracting Visitors and Their Spending, 2014

  • Of the 116 million American adults who traveled more than 50 miles one way in 2012, 32.5 million (28%) extended their trip in order to participate in a cultural, arts, heritage or historic activity or event. Of those who did so, 40% extended their trip by one or more nights.

Source: Americans for the Arts, Arts Facts…Cultural Tourism, 2018

  • Foreign visitors to the United States partake in arts and cultural activities. In 2016, 28.2% of foreign visitors went to an American art museum or gallery, while 16 attended a concert, play or musical.

Source: Americans for the Arts, Arts Facts…Cultural Tourism, 2018

 

Updated spring 2018

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