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BEA Releases New Data on Arts and Cultural Production for 2012

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) recently released new data on arts and cultural production for 2012. While there is a lag in the release of the data, it is exciting that they are providing such data in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts.

According to the BEA: “Nominal value added from all arts and cultural production (ACP) industries – a measure of this sector’s contribution to gross domestic product – increased 3.8 percent, or $25.8 billion in 2012, according to new statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Value added accounted for 4.3 percent, or $698.7 billion, of GDP.” (Source:¬†

Of the core arts and cultural production industries, the top five by value added (contribution to GDP) were:

  1. Advertising ($29,289 million)
  2. Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers ($19,297 million)
  3. Performing Arts ($16,116 million)
  4. Architectural Services ($13,910 million)
  5. Photography and Photofinishing Services ($8,045 million)

The core arts and cultural production contributed $129,011 million to GDP, while the supporting arts and cultural production industries contributed $547,003 million, and all other industries that have secondary production designated as artistic and cultural production contributed $22,681 million.

Total arts and cultural production amounted to 4,676.4 thousand jobs in 2012 with core arts and cultural production accounting for 956.4 thousand of those jobs. The supporting arts and cultural production industries employed 3,537.4 thousand, and all other industries contributed 182.6 thousand jobs. Interestingly, total employment continues to decline since the 2007. The core arts and production industries showed employment growth in 2011 and 2012, but the supporting arts and cultural production industries have seen declines employment in each year since 2007. I am not sure what is driving this dichotomy, but maybe the core arts and cultural industries are bringing some of the support work in-house causing a decline in employment in the supporting arts and cultural industries.

Inspired by Intimate Impressionism at McNay Art Museum

I recently went with my wife and one of my daughters to see the Intimate Impressionism exhibit at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio. It was a fascinating exhibit, and I was in awe by many of the paintings. My favorites, in no particular order, were:

  1. “Yacht Basin at Trouville-Deauville” by Eugene Bodin
  2. “Picking Flowers” by Auguste Renoir
  3. “Meadow” by Alfred Sisley
  4. “Boulevard Heloise, Argenteuil” by Alfred Sisley
  5. “Argenteuil” by Claude Monet
  6. “Still Life with Grapes and a Carnation” by Henri Fantin-Latour
  7. “Peaches on a Plate” by Auguste Renoir
  8. “Concert at the Casino of Deauville” by Eugene Bodin
  9. “Festival in the Harbor of Honfleur” by Eugene Bodin

The one that made me say, “Wow” upon first seeing it was Renoir’s “Picking Flowers”, so it has to be considered my top pick on the list.

Picking Flowers by Renoir


Almost as fun and fascinating as seeing the art was overhearing the various conversations people were having about the paintings. They ranged from, “Those oysters sure look tasty”, to rather in-depth discussions about what the artist was actually trying to portray or might be thinking at the time. It was a clear example of the role the arts and museums on the economy. From the looks of bumper stickers on some of the cars, it appeared that the exhibit did attract visitors from Austin and other areas outside San Antonio, but the more profound impacts, in my opinion, are the enhanced quality of life and the creative inspiration it provided many of those who saw the exhibit. While the ability of an art exhibit to attract visitors to the area is important, It is the impacts to quality of life and the inspiration they provide that attract the skilled, creative workers in all industries to a region, and it is exactly why the arts are so important to the continued development of a regional economy.