District of Columbia Leads the Region in Arts and Culture Employment

By Editorial Team on May 9, 2017

DC residents involved in the arts and cultural production sector were compensated more than $6.88 billion in 2014, according to a new study released recently through a collaboration of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Over 51,000 DC residents were employed in the arts and cultural sector in 2014, representing 8.3% of all employment in the District, the report indicates. The District of Columbia had the highest percentage of state employment attributed to the arts and culture and also ranked first in the percentage of total state compensation credited to the arts in the Mid-Atlantic Region (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia).

“The arts are a clear and substantial part of DC’s economy,” said Brian Kenner, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. “The challenge we face is finding ways to grow this important sector, so that it can continue to employ more people and contribute economically to the prosperity of the District.”

“Jobs in the arts and cultural sector in DC are a significant part of our economic strength,” said Arthur Espinoza, Jr., Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. “I appreciate the work of the arts and humanities professionals in the District who contribute to our cultural prosperity.”

“Information from the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account has been invaluable for understanding the role of arts and culture in our economy, demonstrating that the arts are indeed part of our everyday lives,” said Jane Chu, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Now with the new state data, state leaders have a powerful tool to assess and advance arts and culture for the benefit of all their residents.”

Nationwide, the study details that the arts and cultural sector contributed $729.6 billion or 4.2% to the U.S. economy in 2014. Between 1998 and 2014, the contribution of arts and culture to the nation’s gross domestic product grew by 35.1%.

“It is also worth noting the impact that arts and cultural production has on other areas of the economy,” said Espinoza. “We have seen many examples of restaurants, retail and other businesses benefiting from being in proximity to places such as theaters and galleries for the increased traffic they bring.”

Recently, the District was ranked as one of the most creative cities in America, a distinction that showcases the District’s continued commitment to the creative economy. A recent study also shows DC is a top five “most inspiring city” for young artists.

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) has produced an interactive dashboard utilizing the data from the NEA and BEA report.