US Art and Culture Sector Breaks Overall Economy’s Value Record

US Art and Culture Sector Broke Economy's Overall Value Record With $1 Trillion in 2021, Government Data Shows.

Mar 20, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
US Art and Culture
The Metropolitan Museum of Art


US Art and Culture sector were the most successful in 2021. Overall, they contributed to the economy with $1 trillion. Also, they contributed more to the total economic value than any other sector. The government presented this data precisely, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). That is a big contribution.


US Art and Culture Sector – Post-Pandemic Recovery

The Broad museum, Los Angeles


The NEA and BEA conducted an analysis of 35 sectors within the arts. The goal of the analysis was to determine the health of the economy. One of the research parameters includes the pandemic and its consequences. Overall, whether the sector has recovered from the pandemic or not. The report presents extraordinary data.


In the span of one year (between 2020 and 2021) arts and culture work effectiveness raised 13.7 percent. These data are surprising for the entire economy, which grew only 5.7 for the same amount of time. By the end of the year, arts and culture accounted for 4.4 percent of gross domestic product. Although all 35 industries included in the survey progressed, none has reached the score as of 2019.


Members of the Whitney Museum Union rallied outside the museum on 17 May 2022


In those industries, performing arts companies, solo artists, and performances are also included in the analysis. The report also contains the number of employees in these sectors during 2021. Data shows only 4.9 million people kept their jobs. The number has increased compared to 2020, when the pandemic caused the greatest damage to the world economy.

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Contract Employees and Freelancers Caused a Dicrease in Arts Employment

Chris Roman


Although the number of employees increased compared to 2020, it is still less than in 2019. In 2019 there were 5.2 million employed people. Also, two of the severely hit areas in 2019 are performing arts professionals and performing arts venues. But, they rose by 14% in 2021 to a total of 230,000 personnel. Once more, this increase fell short of the 323,000 jobs employed by the sector before to Covid-19.


However, the analysis points out that the data on employees refer only to artistic organizations. One of the reasons why there was a drop in the number of employees is that a large number of organizations relied on contract employees or freelancers. In contrast to other industries, the workforce in the arts traditionally consists of a disproportionate number of independent contractors.



the National Museum of American History


As a conclusion of the report, we can say that art and culture are one of the most important parts of the American economy. “It is similarly apparent, however, that the sector still faces tremendous hardships due to COVID-19”, NEA chair Maria Rosario Jackson said in a statement. Contribution to the sector comes from both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Because of this, it is important to acknowledge both of their contributions.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.