Creativity makes a strong contribution to the U.S. economy according to a report just released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). In 2011, 3.2 percent or $504 billion of the U.S. GDP was attributable to arts and culture. That’s more than the U.S. travel and tourism industry, now valued at 2.8 percent of GDP.

The leading contributing  industries involved in creativity were motion picture and video production, advertising services, cable television production and distribution, publishing, and the performing arts. In 2011 the gross output value of arts and cultural production topped $916 billion. Advertising (creative content only) output held the largest share of ACP with an output of $200 billion, or 20 percent 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 centers) 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.

We have said frequently that employment is directly connected to creativity, the arts and culture. The study results bear this out. In 2011, the production of arts and cultural goods and services employed 2.0 million workers and generated $289.5 billion in employee compensation in the form of wages, salaries, and supplements. 310,000 of those workers were employed in the film and video industries, accounting for $25 billion in compensation. The museum and performing arts sectors were next, each employing about 100,000 workers with compensation at $6 billion and $8 billion respectively.

We have spoken frequently about the links between creativity, the economy and employment. The arts and culture are most certainly an engine for growth in the U.S. It is perhaps the one area where we continue to hold a lead in production as well as innovation. Piracy is really the one thing that takes a significant bite of this pie. Piracy itself is often described as a victimless crime. Reports like this one should make it clear that that’s just not the case.


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