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Time and Money: Using Federal Data to Measure the Value of Performing Arts Activities

Research Note #102

December 9, 20119 December 2011

Economic impact of culture

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This report examines the monetary and non-monetary value of the performing arts based on a number of different American data sources, including the U.S. Economic Census, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among the report’s key findings:

  • There are nearly 8,840 performing arts organizations in the United States (with at least one person on payroll). Collectively, these organizations had annual revenues of almost $13.6 billion and over 125,000 paid workers in 2007. These statistics include both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.
  • Americans spent $14.5 billion on performing arts admissions in 2009, compared with spending of $33.8 billion on books, $20.7 billion on sports, $10.4 billion on movie tickets, $6 billion on admissions to museums and libraries, $5.6 billion on musical instruments, and $3.9 billion on photographic equipment.
  • “On any given day, 1.5 million Americans attend arts performances, usually with family or friends.”

The report provides a breakdown of the revenue statistics for performing arts organizations. In 2007, for-profit performing arts companies had $8.0 billion in revenues and nearly 54,000 paid workers. Not-for-profit organizations had $5.6 billion in revenues and nearly 74,000 paid workers. Almost one-half of not-for-profit performing arts organizations (46%) had annual revenues below $250,000. On average, American not-for-profit performing arts organizations earned 46% of their total revenues, generated 37% from private sources, obtained 4% from government sources, and generated 13% in other income in 2007.

The report also provides a few time-use statistics that are not related to the performing arts. For example, “about 2.6 million Americans do arts and crafts activities on any given day”. Similarly, on a given day, 557,000 people write for personal interest, and 532,000 visit a museum. In comparison, about 3.4 million Americans go to a movie and 2.7 million attend a sporting event on any given day.

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