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Kenneth S. Rogoff and Jenny Gersten

Investing in the Arts Will Speed Economic Recovery

Private and public partnerships to protect a vital U.S. industry will pay off, especially in hard-hit cities.

Dancers rehearse on a Central Park ball field, June 2020.

Dancers rehearse on a Central Park ball field, June 2020.

Photographer: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

With the coronavirus still raging, and absent a coherent national plan to contain it, American families and workers are continuing to suffer. Comparisons with the Great Recession of 2008-09 understate the damage: This downturn threatens to be much worse with far more profound long-term effects.

Consider the impact on the arts and culture industry, which the U. S. government Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates to account for 4.5% of national income when broadly measured (roughly $900 billion). Nationwide, millions are out of work. The industry is a major force in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Nashville, among other cities. For example, the New York comptroller estimated that, pre-pandemic, the city’s creative industry accounted for almost 300,000 jobs, and 13% of the city’s income.