Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Art's economic impact on NY state

The Alliance for the Arts has released a report on the economic impact that the "Arts" industry has in NY state. The total impact of the various components that make up the Arts Industry is $25.7 billion. Of the 5 slices that make up the entire arts pie, the motion picture/television activities in the state account for the largest contributing segment, followed closely by the chunk represented by the "Non profit culture" which covers museums, performing and visual art entities, historical societies and all sorts other non profit activities. The third larges component is the "Arts motivated visitor," tourists coming in from elsewhere to experience the arts. Commercial theater and art galleries/ auction houses comprise the 2 smallest slices.

The numbers seem huge for certain, and the report seems to be rather thorough in regard to the data culled from the source surveys, but I think that it would be useful to place these findings in a very basic relation to the entire volume of NY's economic pie. $25 billion sounds huge, but how does that compare to other statewide industries? They couldn't fit just one additional pie chart into the report? Yes, I know I'm lazy...perhaps I'll indulge my own curiosity and look in to it.

A little later....

Ok, so
Wikipedia says that NY's state gross state product from 2005 was $963.5billion. In 2006, NY produced $3.6billion in agricultural product, and NY is the second largest producer of cabbage in the US.
See how a little context can go along way. It's quite clear to me now that art is way, way more important than food.
Of course this simply an apple to art comparison. The calculated impact of the arts industry in the report seems to take into account not only the value of any product produced, but also the total expenditure made by the industry to create the product, or experience that it is pedalling, as well as the amount of tax revenue that's generated by the activity. There is a distinction among the slices of pie that constitute this total impact as well. Of the five sectors, four relate to the economic impact on the production side. The Arts-Motivated Visitor category is the only segment that fully encompasses the consumer side of this equation which equals 22%. So it seems that 78% of the total impact is in the mayking of the goods. Now, the report does state that NY is a cultural exporter, but 80% expenditure versus 20% income.....yeah that sounds about right. So, perhaps NY state is simply filled with hordes of compulsively creative people shoveling their hard earned money into doing things that, feed their compulsions, but not necessarily their pockets.

I am so not an economist, but it seems to me that as detailed a picture of the arts industry as these numbers create, it's simply floating in a vacuum without placing it in the big picture.

Finally, It also seems a stretch to me to continually pair the movie/tele industry so closely with the arts. It's beneficial for the smaller, non profit cultural activities to lash its dingy to the Film tug. Maybe the title of the report should be renamed The Economic Impact of Non-athletic Recreational and or Entertainment Diversion on New York State, or more accurately,
The Nature and Scope of the Economic Components that Constitute the Non-athletic Recreational and or Entertainment/Diversion Industry in New York State, the Impact of which on the State Economy Exists, but we Chose not to Quantify the Nature of that Impact in Relation to the Entirety of the State Economy.

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