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From the October 2020 Issue. Read the rest of the issue here.

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*This article is based on my own research. I’m not a statistician or scientist so results from other research may vary.

I feel like it needs to be said that my biggest shock in this research was how insanely hard it is to find comprehensive, reliable data of what is in the federal budget.

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We live in a world that has normalized the “starving artist.” The National Endowment for the Arts provides grants to artists of all types. The amount allotted for this in 2020 was 1/10th of what was allotted for maintaining vacant government buildings. Arts grants fund real working Americans’ lives and provide for the expansion of career possibilities for current and future professional artists. Vacant buildings do not.


Below, see the economic contributions of different sectors of the U.S. economy.

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Alright, so buckle up for some mind-melting numbers.


In the 4th Quarter (October-December) of 2019, the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $21,739,100,000,000. 


Below are some industries’ contribution to this amount.

“Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total monetary or market value of all the goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period.”


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A trade deficit is the amount by which the cost a country’s imports exceeds the value of its exports.

Most important to note is that while in 2019 the U.S. ran a trade deficit of $47,200,000,000, Arts & Culture sectors consistently run at a trade surplus. The most recent data I could find from 2017 stated that “the United States had a $29,700,000,000 trade surplus in arts and cultural commodities in 2017.” (National Assembly of State Arts Agencies)

What does all this mean?

  • The Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation industries are a large economic force. On average, they make up 1.1% of the National GDP.

  • Despite this, the arts (not just dance, but ALL art forms) only receive governmental support that is .0034% of the Federal budget.

  • To put this in perspective, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting makes up .8% of national GDP but JUST AGRICULTURE received federal subsidies this year equivalent to .42% ($20 billion) of the Federal budget.

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