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Arts and culture outlets are as ancient as the economies with which they co-exist, and these forms of community and individual expression are as diverse as the communities, regions, and nations they support. In the U.S. and around the world, a common thread is that the arts and culture realm has an the unceasing ability to bring people together — unifying those with historically shared ties while also attracting disparate individuals or groups together over a discovered common interest or goal.
Visual arts, literature, music, as well as less traditional mediums and emerging outlets impact society, the economy — and, in our modern times, economic development and site selection decision-making. In this post-pandemic era, when society as a whole is discovering new ways of working, enjoying leisure time, and everything in between, arts and culture is seeing an economic resurgence.
In its most recent release on the contribution of arts and culture economic activity, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that this area of the economy increased 13.7% in 2021 (adjusted for inflation) — compared to a 4.8% decrease in 2020. Meanwhile, the broader economy, as measured by real gross domestic product (GDP), increased 5.9% in 2021 after decreasing 2.8% in 2020. Arts and cultural economic activity accounted for 4.4% of gross domestic product (GDP), or $1.02 trillion, in 2021.
The U.S. BEA map below shows the share of GDP for the 50 states and Washington, DC during 2021. In this latest release from BEA, arts and culture comprises: core arts and cultural production industries, which include performing arts, museums, design services, fine arts education, and education services; and supporting arts and cultural production industries, which include art support services and information services.
In October 2023, a report from Americans for the Arts (AFTA) with a focus on non-profit arts and culture organization reported that the non-profit arts and culture industry accounted for $151.7 billion in 2022. This AFTA Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 Study (AEP6) study sought to break new ground by prioritizing equity, social impact, community engagement, and inclusivity.
Just one key finding: “Arts and culture build livable communities in which residents take pride. 86% of Americans say, ‘arts and culture are important to their community’s quality of life and livability,’ and 79% of the American public believe that the arts are ‘important to their community’s businesses, economy, and local jobs.’ 89% of attendees agreed that the activity or venue they were attending was ‘a source of neighborhood pride for the community.'”
In its 30th year, the AFTA Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 Study includes partnerships with 17 national organizations with a goal of understanding the economic and social benefits that the arts bring to communities, states, and the U.S. To name a few, the groups involved included: AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), Black Legislative Leaders Network, National Association of Counties (NACo), National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations, National Independent Venue Association, The Conference Board, and U.S. Conference of Mayors.
What Do Arts & Culture Mean To Your Company?
The impact of arts and culture is immeasurable in terms of value to society, groups, and individuals. And the forms of expression are as vast as the geographies that site selection teams evaluate in order to determine the ideal relocation and expansion plan. Businesses of all shapes and sizes are recognizing the value these types of resources add to their organizational success as quality of life takes its place as a significant economic driver.