Pennsylvania’s Creative Sector Booms, Contributing Over $30 Billion to State Economy

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HARRISBURG, PA — The creative sector in Pennsylvania has emerged as a substantial force in the state’s economy, with newly released data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) revealing impressive growth in 2022. This sector, encompassing a broad array of industries from arts to cultural production, added more than $30.1 billion to the Commonwealth’s gross domestic product (GDP), marking a 6.8 percent increase from the previous year.

Employing more than 175,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions and providing $15 billion in compensation, Pennsylvania now ranks seventh in the nation for creative sector employment and eighth for its contribution to the state’s GDP. These figures underscore the vital role that creativity and culture play not only in enriching community life but also in driving economic development.

Susan S. Cohen, Chair of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA), pointed to the BEA numbers as evidence of the significant impact that the creative sector has on Pennsylvania’s economic growth. She emphasized the PCA’s commitment to supporting and investing in creative industries, highlighting how these efforts contribute to the vitality of communities across the Commonwealth.

The BEA’s Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACPSA) provides an annual measure of the economic value generated by 35 different arts and cultural industries. These include both commercial enterprises and nonprofit organizations. In a broader context, arts and cultural industries contributed $1.1 trillion—or 4.3 percent—to the U.S. GDP in 2022, along with nearly 5.2 million jobs nationwide.

Karl Blischke, Executive Director of the PCA, elaborated on the organization’s role in bolstering the creative sector through a variety of funding opportunities. These initiatives range from supporting jobs and community building to fostering lifelong learning and innovation. The PCA’s investments span arts and cultural production, creative placemaking, accessibility, capacity building, arts in education, and the support of creative small businesses and entrepreneurs.

The PCA annually awards hundreds of grants to a diverse array of recipients within the Commonwealth’s creative sector. These grants have supported operations at places like the Pittsburgh Glass Center, funded signature events such as Musikfest in Bethlehem, backed arts-based community and economic development projects like the Butler Cultural District, and aided creative small businesses like Philadelphia-based Modest Traditions. Through these efforts, the PCA not only enriches Pennsylvania’s cultural landscape but also contributes significantly to the economic health and sustainability of communities throughout the state.

This latest data release highlights the economic power of the arts and underscores the importance of continued investment in the creative sector. As Pennsylvania looks to the future, the growth and vitality of its creative industries remain key components of the Commonwealth’s broader economic strategy, promising to keep the state vibrant and economically competitive.

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