The Arts Add More Than $760 Billion Per Year to the U.S. Economy, a New Study Says

April 3, 2018

The arts add more to the U.S. economy than agriculture and transportation.

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The arts sector contributes more than you might expect to the U.S. economy, says a new report released by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts. It plays a critical role in creating a vibrant, thriving economy, in defining civic identity, and in building engaged and connected communities. The top arts and culture industries include performing arts companies and independent artists, writers, and performers; arts‐related retail trade, such as art galleries, book stores, and music stores; broadcasting (excluding sports); motion picture industries; publishing (excluding Internet); and creative advertising services.

The arts currently generate $763.6 billion per year or 4.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the new data; they employ 4.9 million workers across the nation with earnings of more than $370 billion; exporting $20 billion more than what they import.

“The robust data presented in the report show through hard evidence how and where arts and culture contribute value to the economies of communities throughout the nation,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu in a statement. “The data confirm that the arts play a meaningful role in our daily lives, including through the jobs we have, the products we purchase, and the experiences we share.”

This tells us that the arts remain a valuable and desirable commodity for U.S. consumers and that they are a strong contributor to America’s economic vitality.

Arts & Cultural percentages by states

A map showing the percentages of state economies that are made up by arts and culture. Image courtesy of the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Adjusted for inflation, economic activity related to arts and culture increased 4.9 percent nationwide in 2015, and 2.6 percent on average between 2012 and 2015. Meanwhile, 45 states and the State of Florida saw growth in the arts and cultural industries in 2015.

Here are a few more compelling facts highlighted in the report:

  • In 2013, arts and cultural production contributed $704.2 billion to the US economy, or 4.23 percent of GDP, more than some other sectors, such as construction, with $619 billion, and utilities, with $270 billion.
  • In 2015, the arts and cultural sector added $763.6 billion, four times as much money to the country’s economy than agriculture, and $200 billion more than transportation or warehousing.
  • Currently, Washington and Utah have the country’s fastest-growing arts economies.
  • Among the states, the arts account for the largest share of Washington’s economy, 7.9 percent or $35.6 billion.
  • On the strength of film and television production, California’s art economy brings in the most money among the states, with $174.6 billion, for an even seven percent overall.
  • New York ranks second in both categories, with the arts bringing in $114.1 billion, or 7.8 percent of its economy. The state’s 462,584 arts workers earned a collective $46.7 billion in 2015.
  • The largest rural arts economies are in North Carolina and Tennessee, each with value-added from their respective rural areas totaling more than $13 billion.
  • Performing arts companies and presenters in Florida contributed $1.1 billion for performing arts companies and $646 million for performing arts presenters, 25 percent above the national rate.
  • Delaware relies the least on the arts, which make up just 1.3 percent of the state’s economy or $900 million.
  • In 2015, independent artists, writers, and performers contributed $22 billion.
  • Fine arts education services are on the rise, with a 2.4 percent increase in 2015, following 5.1 percent growth the previous year.
  • When it comes to building new arts facilities, Georgia is ahead of the curve, with a 37.1 percent average increase in cultural construction between 2012 and 2015.
  • Bolstered by the Smithsonian and other federal museums and monuments, arts and culture make up 8.4 percent or $10.2 billion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Washington, DC – more than any individual state.
  • Museums added $5.3 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015, while fine arts schools generated $3.4 billion.

The findings show us that the arts generate a significant drive to the country’s economic growth and development, creating a ripple effect when supporting the U.S. economy, as well as building more connected communities, elevating the quality of life, and defining regional and civic identity.

Gallery Art is a proud and active sponsor of the arts for over 20 years. In partnership with our customers, art lovers and collectors from around the world and across the nation, we will continue to focus in supporting and strengthening this vibrant sector and its many talented workers. 

For more information, email and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Gallery Art is a full service upscale gallery assisting art lovers with their fine art needs. Delivering a stunning showcase of art year-round, ranging from painting to sculpture, Gallery Art is a prime source of fine art acquisition for serious buyers and collectors of all budgets.

Sources:; U.S. Department of Commerce;; National Endowment for the Arts.



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