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D.C. Leads Region in Arts and Culture Employment

D.C. residents involved in the arts and cultural production sector received compensation of more than $6.88 billion in 2014, according to a new study released through a collaboration of the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

More than 51,000 D.C. residents were employed in the arts and cultural sector in 2014, representing 8.3 percent of all employment in the District, the report states. While D.C. boasted the highest percentage of state employment attributed to the arts and culture, the city also ranked first in the percentage of total state compensation credited to the arts in the Mid-Atlantic Region (which includes Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia).

“The arts are a clear and substantial part of D.C.’s economy,” said Brian Kenner, deputy mayor for planning and economic development. “The challenge we face is finding ways to grow this important sector, so that it can continue to employ more people and contribute economically to the prosperity of the District.”

Arthur Espinoza, executive director of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, said that employment in the city’s arts and cultural sector comprises a significant part of the city’s economic strength.

“I appreciate the work of the arts and humanities professionals in the District who contribute to our cultural prosperity, Espinoza said.

Nationwide, the study details that the arts and cultural sector contributed $729.6 billion or 4.2 percent to the U.S. economy in 2014. Between 1998 and 2014, the contribution of arts and culture to the nation’s gross domestic product grew by 35.1 percent.

“It is also worth noting the impact that arts and cultural production has on other areas of the economy,” Espinoza said. “We have seen many examples of restaurants, retail and other businesses benefitting from being in proximity to places such as theaters and galleries for the increased traffic they bring.”

Since taking office, the Bowser administration has shown a commitment to the arts, including the launch of “202Creates” in September, a citywide effort to showcase the District’s diverse and vibrant creative economy; launching the Creative Economy Career Access Program, an on-the-job training program for District residents seeking a sustainable career in the creative economy; and expanded investments in jobs/workforce training and STEM/STEAM education for the District’s youth.

Recently, the District ranked as one of the most creative cities in America. A recent study also shows DC is a top five “most inspiring city” for young artists.

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