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How Many Arts and Cultural Organizations Are There?

Total Arts & Cultural Organizations

These organizations were broken out, as follows:

Arts and Cultural Organizations, 1997
  # %
Performing arts organizations 15,286 57.9%
Museums, historical sites, etc. 5,580 21.1%
Retail art dealers 5,526 20.9%
Total arts and cultural organizations 26,392 100.0%

Bar graph: Arts and cultural organizations - 1997.

This is but a partial count of the total number of arts and cultural organizations in the United States, for the following reasons:

  • It does not include many, if not most, tax-exempt organizations with no personnel designated as "employees."
  • It does not include many, if not most, tax-exempt organizations with annual gross receipts of less than $25,000.
  • It does not include arts and cultural organizations operated as subsidiaries of organizations that are classified by the Economic Census as belonging to a different industry (e.g., art museums on college campuses).
  • It does not include organizations that might qualify under more liberal definitions as arts and cultural organizations.

In the context of the total business economy, as surveyed by the 1997 Economic Census:

  • Arts and cultural organizations (including retail art dealers) represented about 0.3% of the 6.4 million establishments with payroll counted by the 1997 Economic Census.
  • Performing arts organizations, museums, historical sites, and related institutions accounted for about 21% of the nearly 100,000 organizations with payroll counted in the "Arts, entertainment, and recreation" sector.
  • The largest component of the "Arts, entertainment, and recreation" sector was "Amusement and recreation industries," comprising 61% of all establishments in this sector.
  • Retail art dealers made up about 0.5% of the more than 1 million establishments with payroll counted in the "Retail trade" sector.
Establishments with Payroll - 1997
(Counted by the Economic Census)
NAICS Code Type of Establishment Number of Establishments % of All
Taxable Exempt Total
44 Retail trade 1,118,447   1,118,447 17.4%
23 Construction 656,434   656,434 10.2%
62 Health care/social assistance 531,069 114,784 645,853 10.1%
54 Prof./scientific/tech. services 615,305 5,824 621,129 9.7%
72 Accomodations/food services 545,068   545,068 8.5%
81 Other services 420,950 98,765 519,715 8.1%
42 Wholesale trade 453,470   453,470 7.1%
52 Finance and insurance 395,203   395,203 6.2%
31 Manufacturing 363,753   363,753 5.7%
53 Real estate, rental & leasing 288,273   288,273 4.5%
56 Admin./support/waste mgt. 276,393   276,393 4.3%
48 Transportation/warehousing 178,025   178,025 2.8%
51 Information 114,475   114,475 1.8%
71 Arts, entertainment, rec. 79,636 19,463 99,099 1.5%
55 Management of companies 47,319   47,319 0.7%
61 Educational services 33,783 7,153 40,936 0.6%
21 Mining 25,000   25,000 0.4%
22 Utilities 15,513   15,513 0.2%
Aux Auxiliaries 12,930   12,930 0.2%
  Totals 6,171,046 245,989 6,417,035  

Pie chart: Arts and cultural organizations - 1997 as a proportion of the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census)

Tax-exempt (Nonprofit) vs. Taxable Organizations

Not counting retail art dealers (which are, by definition, taxable), there were 20,866 arts and cultural organizations counted by the 1997 Census of Service Industries. Of these, about two in five (41.6%) were tax-exempt (nonprofit), while three in five (58.4%) were taxable. More specifically, one-quarter (25%) of performing arts organizations were tax-exempt, while six out of seven (86%) museums, historical sites, and similar institutions were tax-exempt.

Arts and Cultural Organizations (by Tax Status)
  Total Tax-Exempt Taxable
  # # % # %
Performing arts organizations 15,286 3,879 25.4 11,407 74.6
Museums, historical sites, etc. 5,580 4,793 85.9 787 14.1
Total (excluding retail art dealers) 20,866 8,671 41.6 12,215 58.4

Bar graph: Arts and cultural organizations by tax status - 1997. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census)

Performing Arts Organizations

Performing arts organizations fall into three main categories -- live theater, dance, and music (including opera). Of these, music-related organizations are the most numerous, accounting for 4,635 (30.3%) of 15,286 performing arts organizations tallied by the Economic Census in 1997. Live theater accounted for 18.4% of performing arts organizations, followed by dance at 3.4%. A large group of "other performing arts organizations" that don't fall into these three categories accounts for the remaining 47.9%.

According to the 1997 Economic Census, one-quarter (25.4%) of the performing arts organizations active at the end of 1997 were tax-exempt (nonprofit). But this is a potentially misleading statistic, because several highly visible segments of the performing arts world consist primarily of not-for-profit establishments:

  • More than half of all live theatrical organizations (52.7%) were nonprofit.
  • More than two-thirds of dance organizations (70.5%) were nonprofit.
  • The vast majority (87.0%) of classical music-oriented organizations (and opera companies) were also tax-exempt.

Performing arts organizations fall into three main categories -- live theater, dance, and music (including opera). Of these, music-related organizations are the most numerous, accounting for 4,635 (30.3%) of 15,286 performing arts organizations tallied by the Economic Census in 1997. Live theater accounted for 18.4% of performing arts organizations, followed by dance at 3.4%. A large group of "other performing arts organizations" that don't fall into these three categories accounts for the remaining 47.9%.

According to the 1997 Economic Census, one-quarter (25.4%) of the performing arts organizations active at the end of 1997 were tax-exempt (nonprofit). But this is a potentially misleading statistic, because several highly visible segments of the performing arts world consist primarily of not-for-profit establishments:

  • More than half of all live theatrical organizations (52.7%) were nonprofit.
  • More than two-thirds of dance organizations (70.5%) were nonprofit.
  • The vast majority (87.0%) of classical music-oriented organizations (and opera companies) were also tax-exempt.

Most taxable performing arts organizations come from two categories, which together account for more than 90 percent of all taxable performing arts organizations:

  • Six out of seven non-classical-music-oriented organizations (86%) were taxable.
  • Nine out of ten organizations in the "Other performing arts" category (91%) were taxable.
Performing Arts Organizations (by Tax Status)
  Total Tax-Exempt Taxable
  # # % # %
Live theater 2,809 1,481 52.7 1,328 47.3
Dance 515 363 70.5 152 29.5
Music (including opera) 4,635 1,347 29.1 3,288 70.9
Other performing arts orgs. 7,327 688 9.4 6,639 90.6
Total performing arts orgs. 15,286 3,879 25.4 11,407 74.6

Bar graph: Performing arts organizations - 1997 percentage of organizations. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census)

Bar graph: Performing arts organizations - 1997 number of organizations. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census)

Live Theater

The 1997 Economic Census counted 2,809 organizations that produced live theatrical productions, representing 18.4% of all performing arts organizations counted. A majority (52.7%) of live theatrical organizations were nonprofit. Almost all resident theaters (97%) and community theaters (90%) counted by the Census had nonprofit status. About four out of five stock theaters (82%), off-off-Broadway productions (80%), and children's theaters (78%) were also tax-exempt.

Bar graph: Live theatrical organizations - 1997. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census)

It is important to note that more than 40 percent of the live theatrical organizations counted by the Census did not specify what sub-category of theater they belonged to. This makes it difficult to interpret the numbers appearing in each sub-category (such as "Community theater"). Since most of the unspecified establishments likely belong in one of the available sub-categories, the figures reported in each sub-category undercount the actual number of organizations in each group, but by how much is uncertain. These numbers must, therefore, be used with caution.

Producers of Live Theatrical Productions (by Tax Status)
  Total Tax-Exempt Taxable
  # # % # %
Community theater 479 430 90 39 10
Children's theater 184 144 78 40 22
Broadway productions & road shows 152 31 20 121 80
Resident theater 140 136 97 4 3
Off-Off Broadway productions 126 101 80 25 20
Stock theater 99 81 82 18 18
Off-Broadway productions 75 49 65 26 35
Dinner theater 42 1 2 41 98
Other theatrical presentation 296 107 36 189 64
Theater (sub-category unspecified) 1,226 401 33 825 67
Total live theater 2,809 1,481 53 1,328 47

Dance

The 1997 Economic Census counted 515 dance groups and artists, representing 3.4% of all performing arts organizations counted. A majority (70.4%) of dance organizations were nonprofit. Ballet and modern dance companies were especially likely to be tax-exempt (90 and 94%, respectively), as were three-quarters (74%) of folk and ethnic dance companies.

Bar graph: Dance organizations - 1997. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census)

It is important to note that more than 35 percent of the dance organizations counted by the Census did not specify what sub-category of dance they belonged to. This makes it difficult to interpret the numbers appearing in each sub-category (such as "Ballet company"). Since most of the unspecified establishments likely belong in one of the available sub-categories, the figures reported in each sub-category undercount the actual number of organizations in each group, but by how much is uncertain. These numbers must, therefore, be used with caution.

Dance Groups and Artists (by Tax Status)
  Total Tax-Exempt Taxable
  # # % # %
Ballet company 141 127 90 14 10
Modern dance company 94 88 94 6 6
Folk/ethnic dance company 23 17 74 6 26
Other dance group, artist, presentation 66 13 20 53 80
Dance (sub-category unspecified) 191 118 62 73 38
Total dance 515 363 70 152 30

Music

The 1997 Economic Census counted 4,635 music-related establishments, representing 30.3% of all performing arts organizations counted. Classical music establishments -- symphony orchestras, opera companies, and chamber music organizations -- account for about one in five music organizations.

A majority (70.9%) of music organizations were taxable. This statistic is potentially misleading, though, because classical and non-classical music establishments tend to differ considerably with respect to tax status. While six out of seven (86%) non-classical music organizations were taxable, six out of seven (87%) classical music organizations were tax-exempt.

Bar graph: Music organizations - 1997. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census)

It is important to note that more than 25 percent of the music organizations counted by the Census did not specify what sub-category of music they belonged to. This makes it difficult to interpret the numbers appearing in each sub-category (such as "Jazz music group or artist"). Since most of the unspecified establishments likely belong in one of the available sub-categories, the figures reported in each sub-category undercount the actual number of organizations in each group, but by how much is uncertain. These numbers must, therefore, be used with caution.

Symphony Orchestras, Opera Companies, and Chamber Music Organizations (by Tax Status)
  Total Tax-Exempt Taxable
  # # % # %
Symphony orchestra 446 423 95 23 5
Chamber music org. 150 141 94 9 6
Opera company 121 115 95 6 5
Other (sub-category unspecified) 249 161 65 88 35
Total symphonies, etc. 966 840 87 126 13

 

Other Music Groups and Artists (by Tax Status)
  Total Tax-Exempt Taxable
  # # % # %
Dance or stage band/orchestra 265 15 6 250 94
Choral music group 235 209 89 26 11
Jazz music group or artist 157 12 8 145 92
Other music group, artist, presentation 1,298 61 5 1,227 95
Other (sub-category unspecified) 1,724 210 12 1,514 88
Total other music groups & artists 3,669 507 14 3,162 86

Other Performing Arts Organizations

Almost half (47.9%) of the performing arts organizations counted by the 1997 Economic Census did not fall into the categories of live theater producers, dance, or music establishments. These organizations include "other entertainers and entertainment groups" -- such as ice shows, variety shows, and actors and actresses -- and "other theatrical producers and services" -- such as agents, managers, and promoters of the arts. Detailed breakdowns for the organizations in this category are unavailable, but the vast majority (90.6%) were taxable establishments.

Performing arts organizations fall into three main categories -- live theater, dance, and music (including opera). Of these, music-related organizations are the most numerous, accounting for 4,635 (30.3%) of 15,286 performing arts organizations tallied by the Economic Census in 1997. Live theater accounted for 18.4% of performing arts organizations, followed by dance at 3.4%. A large group of "other performing arts organizations" that don't fall into these three categories accounts for the remaining 47.9%.

According to the 1997 Economic Census, one-quarter (25.4%) of the performing arts organizations active at the end of 1997 were tax-exempt (nonprofit). But this is a potentially misleading statistic, because several highly visible segments of the performing arts world consist primarily of not-for-profit establishments:

  • More than half of all live theatrical organizations (52.7%) were nonprofit.
  • More than two-thirds of dance organizations (70.5%) were nonprofit.
  • The vast majority (87.0%) of classical music-oriented organizations (and opera companies) were also tax-exempt.

Most taxable performing arts organizations come from two categories, which together account for more than 90 percent of all taxable performing arts organizations:

  • Six out of seven non-classical-music-oriented organizations (86%) were taxable.
  • Nine out of ten organizations in the "Other performing arts" category (91%) were taxable.

Museums, Historical Sites, & Similar Institutions

"Museums, historical sites, and similar institutions" breaks down into four main categories -- museums, historical sites, zoos & botanical gardens, and nature parks & related institutions. Of these, museums are by far the most numerous, accounting for 3,860 (69.2%) of 5,580 organizations counted in this category by the 1997 Economic Census. Historical sites accounted for 16.0% of this category, followed by nature parks and similar institutions at 7.9%, and zoos and botanical gardens at 6.9%.

Bar graph: Museums, historical sites, and similar institutions - 1997 number of organizations. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census)

Bar graph: Museums, historical sites, and similar institutions - 1997 percent of organizations. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census)

According to the 1997 Economic Census, six out of seven (86%) of the organizations in this category were tax-exempt (nonprofit), led by historical sites (91% nonprofit) and museums (89%).

Museums, Historical Sites, and Similar Institutions (by Tax Status)
  Total Tax-Exempt Taxable
  # # % # %
Museums 3,860 3,434 89 426 11
Historical sites 892 814 91 78 9
Zoos & botanical gardens 386 269 70 117 30
Nature parks & similar institutions 442 276 62 166 38
Total museums, historical sites, etc. 5,580 4,793 86 787 14

Retail Art Dealers

The 1997 Economic Census reported a total of 5,526 retail art dealers in business in the United States at the end of 1997. These businesses accumulated sales of just over $3 billion, an average of $543,000 per dealer.

Three out of ten art dealers (30.2%) were concentrated in just three states:

  • California 689 (12.5% of all U.S. retail art dealers)
  • New York 588 (10.6%)
  • Florida 390 (7.1%)

These three states also accounted for nearly half of all U.S. sales (48.5%):

  • New York $894.4 million (29.8% of U.S. sales)
  • California $401.4 million (13.4%)
  • Florida $161.1 million (5.4%)

Florida, although third in the country with 390 retail art dealers, actually ranked fourth in the country in total sales. New Mexico, with 220 fewer retail art dealers than Florida (170, 8th in the U.S.), ranked third:

  • New Mexico $165.4 million (5.5%)

Pie chart: Retail art sales - 1997 by state. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census)

 

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