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Arts & Culture Sector Report Shows a Strong Comeback, But Not For Everyone

By Michael Vincent on May 8, 2023

New data from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) showed the arts and culture sector’s 2021 made significant contributions to the economy.

While the results show some culture sector industries haven’t fully bounced back, others have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

By the numbers

  • In 2021, arts and culture represented 4.4% of GDP ($1 trillion) and employed 4.9 million people.
  • Web publishing and streaming services are now the largest arts and cultural industry, contributing $171.3 billion.
  • Motion picture industry bounced back, contributing nearly $68.9 billion in 2021.

Which arts industries are doing the best?

For the very first time, web publishing and streaming services have taken the lead as the largest arts and cultural industry in the U.S. Between 2020 and 2021, this exciting sector experienced a remarkable 27.3 percent growth, contributing a whopping $171.3 billion to the economy (adjusted for inflation).

Performing Arts

In 2021, ten industries experienced growth and made progress toward recovery, though they haven’t quite reached their 2019 levels yet. Groups include independent writers, artists, and performers, as well as performing arts organizations, theatrical ticket agencies, musical instrument manufacturers, and fine arts education (apart from public schools).

Big picture: While the arts may come across to some as “soft” economy drivers, these numbers show Arts and culture sectors are a vital part of the American economy. Once more, these numbers also show that the sectors are recovering from the pandemic.

Michael Vincent
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