Federal officials unveiled a report showing that arts and culture contributed 3.2%, or $504 billion, to the gross domestic product in 2011, a figure that industry advocates hope will bolster their voice in Washington as Congress reexamines copyright and communications laws.
The figures came in a study released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts, in what they said was the first federal in-depth analysis of the arts and cultural sector’s contribution to the GDP.
The 3.2% figure — which encompasses everything from advertising to arts education to cable distribution and movie production — is actually below a peak in 2004, when the percentage hovered at about 3.7%. According to the report, arts suffered more than the overall economy during the great recession of 2007-2009, and has been relatively flat at 3.2% since then.
Nevertheless, the MPAA noted that the arts figure surpasses that of travel and tourism, which was at 2.8% of GDP.
“We welcome this major new initiative by the federal government to better document the important impact that movies, television, publishing and other arts have on our economy, especially in terms of job production and economic development,” MPAA chairman Chris Dodd said in a statement.
Some highlights of the report:
— When it comes to gross economic output, advertising led all sectors of the culture economy with almost $200 billion, followed by arts education ($104 billion), cable production and distribution ($100 billion), motion pictures and video goods and services ($83 billion) and independent artists and performing arts ($48.9 billion). By another measurement — the value that sectors add to the economy — movies and video actually make a more significant contribution than advertising.
— Starting in 2008, culture industries started producing a trade surplus after running deficits for a decade. In 2011, the U.S. exported $10.4 billion more in cultural goods than it imported. The report attributed the surplus to a decline in the imports of jewelry and silverware, while exports of movies and TV shows “remained comparatively strong.”
— The movie and video industry employed the largest share of cultural workers — 310,000 with $25 billion in compensation. By contrast, museums and performing arts each employed about 100,000 workers. Nevertheless, charts show that the rebound in cultural jobs has lagged the rest of the country’s workforce, and that the arts was still shedding employees in 2011. Overall, there were about 2 million workers in arts and cultural industries, with about $290 billion in compensation.
In July, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that it was changing the method to calculate GDP to better account for the creation of copyrighted works. But the new analysis came too late to be included in the report released on Thursday.