Art Sectors Contributed $763.6 Billion to US Economy


Power of Creativity

I’ve had this article on my list of things to talk about for awhile as I think it’s a good reflection on the impact that the arts and creativity have on numerous facets of the economy. Though many of us appreciate the arts through movies, music, and books, I’ve found that more often than not, we don’t give thought to the massive impact the arts has to all sectors of society. The article I’m referencing found that the arts had a significant impact on the US economy, coming in at $763.3 Billion in 2015. That is 4.2% of the US GDP!

“Other surprising findings of the state-by-state breakdown include Indiana’s vibrant musical instrument manufacturing industry, the importance of the film industry to Louisiana’s economy, and that in Colorado, arts and culture contributed more to the state’s GDP than mining and transportation, generating $13.7 billion in 2015.”

Star Trek Effect

The post WW2 US in the 1950s was a time of big thinking. Coming off of the success of the war, and the breakthrough of nuclear technology, America was now truly a, if not the, global leader. More importantly perhaps was the cultural excitement that had been created around technology and the future. Looking back to that time period you can see the constant proliferation of concepts and ideas devoted to what the “world of tomorrow” would look like. It was a time of big thinking and big ideas. That cultural DNA was carried into the 1960s, with one show creating a legacy vision of the future for humanity, Star Trek.

The “Star Trek Effect” is a term that illustrates the effect that this quirky, campy, show had on the societies in which it was viewed, instigating cultural changes that have carried through to today. The reason I bring this is up, is that art, technology, and culture are an inseparable fabric that simultaneously both influence and respond to each other. I remember the first time I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I was instantly captivated. A civilization built around the belief that everyone can truly be a positive part of society, and that no one is left behind. How the technology was always so amazing, yet seemed like it was just around the corner. Start Trek influenced the thoughts of millions like me, and some have turned it into a reality. Take for example, the datapads. Small, book like devices that could be used to read, transfer information, play games and much more. Now, writing in 2019, we have iPads and Tablets, capable of doing all of that and more. It just took a simple idea, and some day later it was here. Of course note even Star Trek could truly image the possibilities of such devices, such as we cannot now know what the future applications may end up being; Just take a look at how the crew of the enterprise hand each other the datapads to read, can’t they just send that data?

The common phrase “Does art imitate life, or life imitate art?” is a reflection of this dynamic. A dynamic that I believe is both true and indivisible. Star inspired generations of scientists, philosophers, educations, and more since its original airing. These generations are responsible for the creation of countless technologies and improvements to our everyday life, and have inspired younger generations to make the world better than it is. In short, Star Trek gave us a lens from which to see the future, and inspired us to believe that we could make it happen.

An Art Worth Investing In

The impact of art on all of us cannot be understated. Starting from our youngest days, our stories inform what we want and who we want to become. This is an incredible time for the creation of art, and I don’t see it dimishing any time soon. There is more content being created, regardless of medium, than ever before, and much of it is incredible. As a gamer and game dev myself, I’m constantly in awe about how far the medium has come, even within just the past 10 years. We should, as a society, understand and emphasize the role that art plays in both our daily lives and in the growth of society and human civilazation. At a time when we emphasize innovation and new ideas are desperately needed to solve some of the worlds biggest problems, we should be planting those seeds in the youngest of us, so that someday we can harvest the future we haven’t even begun to dream of yet.

Chris Volpe