Yesterday, Bloomberg TV interviewed Sunil Iyengar of the National Endowment for the Arts to discuss a new study that analyzes the economic contributions of arts, entertainment, and culture.

“This was the first time that the U.S. Government had really put a dollar figure to the total contribution of arts and cultural industries to the nation’s economy,” Iyengar said. “Turns out that it amounts to about 3.25% of the total GDP in this country, which is more than 500 billion dollars.”

Film and Television Are Leading the Way

The study was conducted jointly by the NEA and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Iyengar also said:

“It was a very painstaking process where we went through a range of goods and services and identified the creative content in each, and through that process we determined that yes, indeed, movies is a leader, as you can imagine, certain TV shows, the distribution of cable programs and TV shows, as well as publishing, are some of the leaders. But also artists and performing arts industries rank relatively high in terms of total economic contributions.

“I should add that by virtue of having this account we can now track such things as imports relative to exports, and we see that over the last decade or so exports have steadily been climbing, that is to say arts and culture exports as a share of all exports.

And in fact, we’ve recently surpassed imports. So we’re seeing a surplus with regard to exports to imports. And that’s coming, as you suggested, largely from motion pictures, for example, where we have about $14 billion in revenue – export-generated revenue – in 2009, just when the recession ended.”