Art & Culture

Apart from the priceless influence of art & culture in defining our identities and values, this industry is widely recognized as an important driver for economic growth and development. The main strength of the cultural system lies in its diversity. It binds together sectors with different purposes and features, such as the art market, museums and galleries, theatre, and performing arts.

When considering museums and galleries worldwide, Western Europe and North America lead the way in terms of number of institutions and attendance figures. Meanwhile, the U.S. leads the art market, with the UK and China as the other two major hubs.

Being one of the industries most impacted by the health crisis, the art & culture market is now making the most out of digital opportunities. Museums, in most cases forced to stay closed, boosted their social media presence during the pandemic, while auction houses strengthened their digital departments and increased online sales.

Market size

The big picture of the art market
Global art market value from 2007 to 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars)
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Since 2010, the global art market value has fluctuated significantly. As of 2019, sales worldwide amounted to about 64 billion U.S. dollars, decreasing from the previous year. In contrast, the volume of global transactions has increased gradually since 2016. Overall, sales volume reached 40.5 million in 2019, the highest figure recorded in a decade.

Art market worldwide
Global art market
Art market in the United States

Market segments

Before the pandemic, theatre in the U.S. was at its best
Market size of the live performance theater industry in the United States from 2011 to 2020, with a forecast until 2022 (in billion U.S. dollars)
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The market size of live performance theatre in the United States reached its highest point at over nine billion U.S. dollars in 2019, after rising steadily since 2013. Meanwhile, Broadway had a memorable season. In 2018/2019, attendance at Broadway shows in New York reached nearly 15 million, while gross revenue peaked at 1.8 billion U.S. dollars. However, due to the impact of the pandemic, the market size of live performance theatre in the U.S. is expected to decline by over 30 percent in 2020.

Theatre and Broadway in the United States
Theatre and the West End in the United Kingdom
Number of employees in the live performance theatre industry in the U.S.

Industry trends

Online art sales are on the rise
Annual growth rate of online sales in the art and antiques market worldwide from 2014 to 2020
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The value of the global online art market reached approximately 4.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2019, denoting a four percent increase over the previous year. According to pre-pandemic forecasts, this segment was expected to be worth over nine billion U.S. dollars by 2024. However, the health crisis could instead likely give a further boost to online sales. In the first half of 2020, online auction sales of contemporary art worldwide skyrocketed, roughly doubling the revenue recorded in 2019.

Global online art market
Online art market worldwide
Online auction revenue from contemporary art sales worldwide

Industry leaders

Two auction houses dominate the global art market
Revenue of leading auction houses at fine art auctions in selected countries in 2020 (in million U.S. dollars)
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Both founded in the United Kingdom during the 18th century, auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s are the two giants of the global art market. In 2020, auction sales of Sotheby's amounted to roughly five billion U.S. dollars, while Christie's global sales reached around 4.4 billion U.S. dollars. Other leading players in this sector are Chinese auction houses Poly Auction and China Guardian, as well as the British company Phillips.

Number of fine art lots sold at the leading auction houses worldwide
Total auction sales of Christie's worldwide
Total auction sales of Sotheby's worldwide

Regional overview

Most museums worldwide are located in just two regions
Most visited museums worldwide in 2019 and 2020 (in millions)
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According to UNESCO, the current estimated number of museums worldwide is 95 thousand. Roughly 65 percent of these institutions are in North America and Western Europe. Thus, it comes as no surprise to find out that 13 out of the 20 most visited museums worldwide in 2019 were based in Europe and the United States. In that year, the Louvre in Paris topped the ranking, welcoming over 9.6 million visitors.

Museums worldwide
Museums in the United States
Museums in the United Kingdom

Industry Definition

The Art & Culture industry comprises a wide range of markets whose activities are directly related to artistic value and cultural goods or are creative-driven. The art and antiques segment focuses on the art market, including auction houses, art dealers, and art fairs. Meanwhile, the museum & galleries sector encompasses all institutions collecting, curating, and exhibiting artifacts of cultural, historical, and scientific importance, as well as works of art. Similar in intent, the heritage, libraries, and archive sector specifically looks at historical sites, funding, services, and use of public libraries and similar facilities.

An important section of the art & culture industry is the one based on live entertainment. In this respect, the theatre & performing arts segment includes stage shows like concerts, plays, operas, dance activities, and art performances. Finally, the cultural events sector mainly examines attendance and financial indicators of cultural activities.


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