Nobody puts the Arts sector in a corner. That's pretty much what the National Endowment of Arts said when they announced their partnership with the Bureau of Economic Analysis this week. According to a statement released by the NEA, the two agencies are teaming up to initiate the first-ever effort to measure the contribution of the creative sector to Gross Domestic Product, putting Arts on par with sectors like the manufacturing and construction industries.
The program will be called "Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account," and will provide precise data on employment, wages and the overall contribution of the Arts to the American economy. It's part of the NEA's new research agenda, which emphasizes "impact analysis"; in other words, the effect of the arts on various sectors such as science, technology, education and the economy.
As a part of the ACPSA, the NEA has outlined plans to identify and measure the specific industries and commodities that spark creative engagement and bring cultural goods and services to the public. The expected data will shed light on the number of people employed by museums and theaters, the revenues of architectural firms, worker compensation in the music industry and the value of the book publishing industry, among other things.
In the past, the BEA has collected economic data for select arts domains such as performing arts, but the reports were sporadic and the estimates were generally broad, often combined with data for other sectors such as sports and recreation. But the new NEA-BEA partnership will now provide precise measurements for subgroups like dance, music, and theater.
The NEA has been on the receiving end of some jabs as a result of Mitt Romney's intentions of slashing public arts funding. As Eric Morath at Nasdaq.com notes, the ACPSA's new, more precise, data collecting strategy could prove influential as the government moves toward tightening federal spending.
The first NEA-BEA estimates will be available next year in BEA's Survey of Current Business, with annual updates to follow. Let us know what you think of the new partnership in the comments section.