Reports show museums and the arts contributing billions to US economy

New studies have revealed that museums support 726,000 jobs in the US, while the wider arts sector contributes $764.6bn to the economy.

The first study, ‘Museums as Economic Engines’, comes from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) in conjunction with Oxford Economics. It shows that museums support 726,000 jobs in the US, and directly employ 372,100 people.

The study, conducted with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, also shows that for every $100 of economic activity created by museums, an additional $220 is created in other sectors of the economy as a result of supply chain and employee expenditure impacts. These impacts mean that museums contribute approximately $50bn to the US economy each year.

The report is also the first to show that US museums generate more than $12bn per year in tax revenue to federal, state, and local governments.

Laura Lott, president and CEO of the AAM, said: “Our legislators, policymakers, funders, and trustees can be confident in the fact that museums are important economic engines that support jobs and bring revenue to their local communities.”

The Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account

The second study reveals that the wider arts sector contributes $763.6bn to the US economy, more than agritculture, transportation or warehousing.

Produced by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the ‘Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account’ (ACSPA) tracks the annual economic impact of arts and cultural production from 35 industries, both commercial and nonprofit.

The report found that the arts employ 4.9 million workers across the country with earnings of more than $370bn. The arts also created a trade surplus, exporting $20bn more than was imported. The leading sectors in exporting were movies, TV and jewellery.

Other findings of the ACSPA report include:

  • Among the fastest-growing industries are web streaming and web publishing, performing arts presenting, design, and architectural services.
  • Tax-exempt performing arts organizations contributed $9bn to the US economy and employed 90,000 workers, who earned $5.6bn in total compensation.
  • Consumers spent $31.6bn on admissions to performing arts events, $1bn more than projected.

Jane Chu, chair of the NEA, said: “The robust data present in the ‘Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account’ show through hard evidence how and where arts and culture contribute value to the economies of communities throughout the nation.

“The data confirm that the arts play a meaningful role in our daily lives, including through the jobs we have, the products we purchase, and the experiences we share.”