How the Arts made the GDP Sexy?

Well in case you have not heard, the Bureau of Economic Analysis within the United States Department of Commerce has released a major study which for the first time provides an analysis of the Arts and Cultural Sector’s contribution to our Gross Domestic Product. And the results are amazing.

    • In 2012 the arts and cultural sector contributed almost $700 billion to the U.S economy. This represents 4.32% of the GDP.
    • The arts sector contributes more than agriculture, construction or transportation!
    • The non-profit portion of the $700 billion represents $135 billion in economic activity that supports 4.1million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue.

So now that we have this data, what are we going to do with it? It’s crucial that you inform all of your constituents: audience, members, donors, trustees. And then widen the circle – inform your elected officials. From your local city council to your state legislature to your governor to your US Congressmen and congresswomen and US Senators – they all need to hear this crucial message.

And send it again. Because like advertising, the message will need to be repeated over and over.

As a sector, we contribute $700 billion! And that is more than agriculture, construction or transportation!

Now, as the song goes, “Wait a minute”. Within the President’s cabinet, we have a Secretary of Agriculture and a Secretory of Commerce. And they have huge budgets within the Federal government. In 2015 the federal Department of Agriculture had $23.7 billion in discretionary funding and the federal Department of Transportation had $91 billion in discretionary funding. Plus they each have additional dollars to spend on projects, staff etc.

The budget for the National Endowment for the Arts in 2015 is $146 million. MILLION. Not even a single BILLION.

And nothing is going to change unless we begin to use this new data to affect change. The arts community needs to band together and lobby our state and federal officials. Carrots, planes and highways are very important. But so are music, theatre and dance. Now we have the data that proves just how vital we are to the economy.

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