As the brush strikes the canvas, as the ballet shoes glide over the stage, as the poet pens a heartfelt verse, so does the soul of a nation come alive. Art and culture are more than mere expressions of creativity—they are the threads that weave our lives’ rich tapestry. In a world often caught in the clutches of pragmatism and productivity, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) bring to light the tangible value of the arts, presenting an economic narrative that intersects with our very human experience. Drawing from data released in March 2023, the arts and cultural sector’s significant rebound from the pandemic’s blows marks a testament to its resilience and indomitable spirit. Indeed, with a remarkable contribution of over $1.0 trillion to the national economy, equating to 4.4% of the GDP, the cultural landscape forms an often underappreciated pillar of strength. In Massachusetts alone, for every $100 spent, $4.20 is generated by this pulsating, vibrant sector. This piece aims to delve deeper into these statistics, shedding light on the vibrant heartbeat of our communities- arts, and culture- underscoring its significance and the urgent need to nurture it back to its full glory.
The Arts and Cultural Sector Rebounds (Information provided as of March 2023)
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) have released new data on the economic impact of the arts and cultural sector in 2021. The data shows that the sector rebounded significantly from the pandemic, with a 13.7% increase in real value added. However, some core arts industries, such as independent artists and performing arts organizations, still need to return to pre-pandemic levels.
The overall arts economy in 2021 represented 4.4% of GDP, or just over $1.0 trillion—a new high-water mark. This is a significant contribution to the national economy, underscoring the importance of the arts and cultural sector.
The arts and culture sector is a major economic driver in Massachusetts. In 2021, arts and cultural production in the state accounted for:
- $27.2 billion economic impact
- 135,181 jobs
- 4.2% of the state’s economy
This means that for every $100 spent in Massachusetts, $4.20 is generated by the arts and culture sector. The sector also supports various jobs, from artists and performers to technicians and administrators.
The economic impact of the arts and culture sector is more comprehensive than direct spending. The sector also generates indirect and induced economic activity. Indirect economic activity is spending when people who work in the arts and culture sector buy goods and services from other businesses. Induced economic activity is the spending that occurs when people who visit arts and cultural events spend money on other things in the community, such as food and lodging.
The arts and culture sector also has several other benefits for the state, including:
- Attracting tourists: The arts and culture sector attracts millions of tourists to Massachusetts each year, which generates revenue for businesses and helps to boost the state’s economy.
- Improving education: Arts education can help to improve student achievement in a variety of subjects, including math, science, and reading.
- Promoting social inclusion: The arts can help to promote social inclusion by bringing people from different backgrounds together.
- Enhancing quality of life: The arts can enrich people’s lives and make Massachusetts a more attractive place to live, work, and visit.
The economic impact of the arts and culture sector is significant, and the sector provides a number of benefits for the state. It is important to support the arts and culture sector in order to ensure that it continues to thrive and contribute to the state’s economy and quality of life.
How to Support the Arts and Culture Sector in Massachusetts
There are a number of ways to support the arts and culture sector in Massachusetts. Here are a few ideas:
- Attend arts and cultural events: This is the most direct way to support the sector. When you buy tickets to a concert, play, or museum exhibition, you are helping to support the artists, performers, and other professionals who make these events possible.
- Donate to arts organizations: There are many arts organizations in Massachusetts that rely on donations to keep their doors open. You can donate to your favorite organizations online or by mail.
- Volunteer your time: Arts organizations often need volunteers to help with a variety of tasks, such as ushering at events, fundraising, and marketing. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and support the arts.
- Shop at arts and cultural businesses: There are many arts and cultural businesses in Massachusetts that sell everything from handmade crafts to original artwork. When you shop at these businesses, you are helping to support the artists and entrepreneurs who create them.
Every little bit helps. By supporting the arts and culture sector in Massachusetts, you are helping to make the state a more vibrant and attractive place to live, work, and visit.