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Is School Funding for the Arts Worth it?

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) constructs satellite Gross Domestic Product accounts which look at the contributions of certain economic clusters to the overall economy.

BEA makes these data for such areas as the Arts and Cultural Production, Outdoor Recreation economy, and others.

The Arts and Cultural Production account includes the Performing Arts, Museums, Design Services, Fine Arts education among other activities. This sector is responsible for 4.2% of US GDP and 4.6 million jobs in 2020, the latest year for which these data are available. This is, of course, significantly lower from pre-Covid levels.

In Virginia, the Arts contribute 2.9% of our state GDP. In DC, 8.2%, Maryland, 2.5%.

This sector supports 109,900 jobs in Virginia.

The Outdoor Recreation sector incudes conventional activities such as bicycling, skiing, equestrian, boating, hiking, hunting; other activities such as gardening and outdoor concerts; and related supporting activities such as related construction, travel and tourism. Outdoor recreation is 1.8% nationally and 1.5% in Virginia. This sector contributes 104,300 jobs in Virginia.

Each of these sectors of our economy supports jobs, income, and each contributes towards enjoyment of life in our Commonwealth.

Within each of these clusters is a wide range of occupations. In the case of the Arts and

Cultural segment, there are artists, performers and musicians and the array of support people including set construction, bookkeepers, lawyers, HR professionals, etc. that comprise the industries. Without the artists, performers and musicians, these other jobs would not exist. We take great pride in Virginia’s great outdoors, we should take the same pride in our artistic and cultural beauty.

Support the arts in our schools and we support our economy.


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