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Creative Industries 2015

Business & Employment in the Arts: Measuring the Scope of the Nation’s Arts-Related Industries

February 22, 201722 February 2017

Creative economy / Cultural industries

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This brief report summarizes data on not-for-profit organizations and businesses “involved in the production or distribution of the arts”. Included in the definition are organizations and businesses such as not-for-profit orchestras, museums and theatres as well as “for-profit film, architecture, and advertising companies”.  More specifically, “to define the Creative Industries, Americans for the Arts selected 644 8-digit Standard Industrial Classification codes that represent for-profit and nonprofit arts-centric businesses (out of more than 18,500 codes representing all industries)”. Excluded are broader creative businesses that are not focussed on the arts, such as computer programming and scientific research.

The data are drawn from Dun & Bradstreet information about employment and the number of arts-centric organizations and businesses. Only those organizations and businesses registered with Dun & Bradstreet are included, leading to “an under-representation of nonprofit arts organizations in the data. Additionally, many individual artists are not included, as not all are employed by a business or register with Dun & Bradstreet.”

Given these data limitations as well as the relatively narrow focus on arts-centric organizations, Americans for the Arts indicates that the data “should be considered conservative”.

Overall, the report finds that there are just over 700,000 arts-related organizations and businesses in the U.S., employing 2.9 million people. “This represents 3.9 percent of all U.S. businesses and 1.9 percent of all U.S. employees—demonstrating statistically that the arts are a formidable business presence”.

Design is the single-largest creative industry as measured by number of businesses (167,000) and second-largest in terms of number of employees (354,000). The largest employer in the American creative industries is motion pictures, with 380,000 employees in 79,000 businesses. When combined, six components of the performing arts total 116,000 businesses with 465,000 workers.

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