May 16, 2022

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA): “New Data Show Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Arts & Culture Sector”

From the National Endowment for the Arts:

New data released today by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) provide insights into the impact on the arts and cultural sector by COVID-19. The Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACPSA) tracks the annual economic impact of arts and cultural production from 35 industries, both commercial and nonprofit. These data describe the national and state-level contributions of the arts and cultural sector to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, the first year of the pandemic.

National-level ACPSA data
In 2020, arts and culture added $876.7 billion, or 4.2 percent, to national GDP. Between 2019 and 2020, the U.S. arts economy shrank at nearly twice the rate of the economy as a whole: arts and cultural production fell by 6.4 percent when adjusted for inflation, compared with a 3.4 decline in the overall economy. While the size and diversity of the arts and culture sector helped it to remain a major contributor to the economy, certain arts industries saw enormous declines.

Value Added to U.S. GDP By Selected Sectors

In year one of the COVID-19 pandemic, few areas of the U.S. economy were harder hit than the performing arts:

  • Performing arts presenters and performing arts companies joined oil drilling/exploration and air transportation as the steepest-declining areas of the U.S. economy in 2020.
  • After adjusting for inflation, the value added by performing arts presenters (including festivals) fell by nearly 73 percent between 2019 and 2020.

Other arts and cultural industries also saw steep declines in economic activity between 2019 and 2020:

  • The value added from new construction of arts and cultural facilities declined by 24.3 percent; museums by 22.0 percent; independent artists/writers/performers by 20.6 percent; and motion picture and video production industries by 17.9 percent.

(Note: “Independent artists/writers/performers”—a single industry—includes the self-employed and those working as independent contractors. Within the ACPSA, earnings from these workers are captured as gross output and value added. Yet, as workers, they are excluded from ACPSA employment data.)

Top Contributors to Arts and Cultural GDP

Learn More, Read the Complete NEA Data Brief

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.