The city of New Orleans has an Office of Cultural Economy. The third largest employment sector in the city, after tourism and finance, is the cultural category. And, while manufacturing, oil and gas, and government jobs are declining, cultural workers are gaining employment at a faster rate than any other group.
According to Americans for the Arts, about 4 million people and over nine hundred thousand businesses for the measurable creative economy. And, the AftA definitions do not include the culinary arts. The culinary arts are the largest sector in New Orleans, as anyone who has traveled there would understand. (A friend recently confessed to arranging layovers in NOLA just for the food.)
It’s become commonly understood that artists improve a neighborhood, and arts district will raise property values and improve the urban economy. But until recently cities and business leaders haven’t really looked at the power of the cultural economy. Since the turn of the century, however, projects to enhance and create arts districts are gaining momentum.
What could be possible with more awareness of our cultural economy?
Tell me how your local arts and culture economy is faring. Does your local government support the cultural economy? What’s your role?
Resources & further reading:
- The National Governers Association’s 2012 report on arts and the economy, New Engines of Growth, gives state leaders resources to boost their cultural economies.
- From CommunityWealth.org, “Creative Economy Strategies for Small and Medium-sized Cities“
- Main street USA has worked on behalf of local small business, many of them arts and culture oriented, for over 30 years.
- Art Place America channels arts funding to communities. Many of their funders have a deep commitment to their local communities.