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National Arts Index 2016

January 25, 201725 January 2017

Arts indicators / Well-being

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The 2016 report of the National Arts Index, based largely on data from 2013, highlights the “post-recession recovery” of the arts using 81 equally-weighted national indicators across four key dimensions: financial flows; capacity; arts participation; and competitiveness. The overall index value was 99.8 in 2013, higher than any year since 2009 but only back to the levels in the first two years measured (2002 and 2003). In other words, based on this index, the arts in America are in roughly the same health as in 2002.

The report indicates that the number of working artists increased by 6% between 2002 and 2013, from 2.1 to 2.2 million. In both years, artists represented 1.5% of the overall civilian labour force. The number of self-employed artists grew much more substantially (38%), from 554,000 in 2002 to 766,000 in 2013.

Consumer spending on the arts has remained fairly steady over time (roughly $150 billion each year). However, as a share of overall consumer spending, arts spending decreased from 1.83% in 2002 to 1.32% in 2013.

The arts sector includes 656,000 for-profit businesses and 95,000 not-for-profit organizations. However, the report indicates that many “arts nonprofits continue to be challenged financially”, with 42% of them posting a deficit in 2013. The report also notes that “arts organizations foster creativity and entrepreneurship” by continuing to produce new works: 11,500 new works were created between 2002 and 2013. The largest numbers of new works were movies (6,500), plays (3,054), and orchestral works (1,446).

Among other key findings in the report:

  • Audience engagement is changing, with decreases in the proportion of Americans attending art museums and some types of live performances, but an increase in attendance at popular music concerts.
  • Technological change continues to modify arts dissemination. For example, “in 2013, digital formats comprised 37% of total music sales”, and nearly one-half of music stores closed between 2003 and 2013.
  • “The arts help reduce the U.S. international trade deficit”.
  • Two general economic indicators are good predictors of the arts index: 1) private support for all types of charities; and 2) overall employment.

Americans for the Arts has decided to discontinue the index as of this release, which also provides a similar index for every county in the U.S.A.

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