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US creative $500bn industry

December 6, 2013

By Colin Mann

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) have revealed the first estimates from the new Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACPSA). This is the first federal effort to provide in-depth analysis of the arts and cultural sector’s contributions to current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the final dollar value of all goods and services produced in the United States.

According to these new estimates, 3.2 per cent – or $504 billion – of current-dollar GDP in 2011 was attributable to arts and culture. In comparison, BEA’s estimated value of the US travel and tourism industry was 2.8 percent of GDP.

“The positive value of arts and culture on society has been understood on a human level for millennia. With this new effort, we are now able to quantify the impact of arts and culture on GDP for the very first time. Better utilising this type of knowledge and information is part of the Department of Commerce’s ‘Open for Business Agenda,’ through which we are seeking to provide more transparency and data to enhance decision-making, create more value, and better understand and grow our economy,” said US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

“Art and culture is a significant part of the US economy. Not just its contributions of ideas and creativity to the innovation economy, but also as an important part of the labour force and our country’s GDP,” said NEA Senior Deputy Chairman Joan Shigekawa.

Among the key findings:

  • Arts and GDP – For 2011, the value added from arts and cultural production (ACP) accounted for nearly 3.2 per cent, or $504 billion, of GDP. The leading contributing industries were motion picture and video production, advertising services, cable television production and distribution, publishing, and the performing arts.
  • Valuable arts commodities, from advertising to arts education – For 2011, the gross output of ACP was $916 billion. The table below shows the eight leading contributors to ACP output for 2011. Advertising (creative content only) output held the largest share of ACP with an output of $200 billion, or 20 per cent of all arts and cultural commodities. The second largest share was arts education (including post-secondary fine arts schools, fine arts and performing arts departments, and academic performing arts centres) with an ACP output of $104 billion. Cable television production and distribution with $100 billion in output and ‘motion picture and video goods and services’ with $83 billion in output had the third and fourth largest shares.

Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, welcomed the federal government’s initiative better to document the important impact that movies, television, publishing and other arts have on the US economy – especially in terms of job production and economic development.

“At the MPAA, we’ve seen the important role that movies and television play in creating good-paying jobs and spurring the growth of new business opportunities, not just in Hollywood, but throughout our nation. We applaud this latest acknowledgement from the government of the major impact our industry and other arts and cultural industries have on the US economy,” he said.

In July, the BEA announced that it was changing the method used to calculate GDP to better reflect the economic contributions that come from businesses investing in research and development and the creation of copyrighted works like movies and TV series. This means the national GDP will more accurately reflect the economic generated by creative works. This new measurement showed that going all the way back to 1929, the GDP had actually been 3 per cent higher than previously reported, and according to these new numbers, research development and entertainment added $471 billion to the revised $16.2 trillion overall economy through the end of 2012. According to the BEA, this new analysis came too late to be included in the new report released today, but it will be included in 2014.

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