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Home » Officer Columns » Secretary-Treasurer » BEA Reports on How Arts Sector Impacts GDP

BEA Reports on How Arts Sector Impacts GDP

  -  former AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) have released prototype estimates from the new Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACPSA). This is the first federal effort to look at the arts and cultural sector’s impact on gross domestic product (GDP) and provides national estimates for the years 1998 to 2011 on select arts and cultural commodities and industries. According to estimates 3.2% ($504 billion) of the 2011 GDP was attributed to arts and cultural production (ACP).

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

Among the key ACPSA findings were:

  • The arts suffered more than the overall economy during the great recession of 2007-2009. Between 1998 and 2006, the ratio of current-dollar value added for ACP to current-dollar GDP ranged between 3.5% and 3.7%. In 2007, the ratio fell to 3.3% of GDP, and dipped further to 3.2% in 2009, where it held steady through 2011.
  • A 10-year trend of ACP trade deficits was reversed beginning in 2008. In 2011, the US exported $10.4 billion more ACP commodities than it imported.
  • In 2011, the production of arts and cultural services employed 2.0 million workers and generated $289.5 billion in employee compensation in the form of wages, salaries, and supplements. The 2007-2009 recession took a heavy toll on arts and cultural employment. In 2009 alone, ACPSA-related employment declined more than 170,000.

In the fall of 2014, BEA will release a revised ACPSA estimate for 1998-2012. The findings will be published in BEA’s monthly publication The Survey of Current Business.

Industry and the public are invited to comment on the prototype ACPSA, which can be read in full on the NEA website at Comments should be directed to Carol E. Moylan, associate director for industry economic accounts at BEA (

Shrek group

Pictured (L to R): Carmelo Scattidi-Argentina, member of Local 180 (Ottawa, ON) and the Funk Brothers band; Joe Cadena, member of Local 368 (Reno, NV) and the Tahoe house bands for Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, and many others; AFM Secretary-Treasurer Sam Folio; and John Shipley, president of Local 368, musical director for Tahoe Players, member of the Funk Brothers band, and founding member of Hiroshima jazz band. Not pictured: Lily Baran, member Local 368, who played the role of Donkey and was producer/director of the Tahoe Players production of Shrek.

Tahoe Players was started in the early 1990s by Local 368 booking agency to fill the void from the loss of Reno casino house bands. The Christmas show is cosponsored by MPTF and Washoe County School District. As many as 18,000 students attend the 10 shows annually, which of course feature live orchestras.

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