Yesterday I uploaded two posts explaining the difference between the terms “creative economy” and the “art economy”. Understanding the difference between the two is important because we are talking about the way we view and measure a growing portion of the US economy. The sooner those of us that work and promote the creative economy come to an agreement on standardized definitions and ways of measuring this expanding sector the easier it will be to recruit young creatives and entrepreneurs into the movement.
I was admittedly growing frustrated in my search for a standardized definition of the creative economy in the US. I wondered how could it be that Europe and Asia were so far ahead of the US in the domain? Well one its due to our federal system. A lot of the best work is happening at the state level not at the national level. Every state is burrowing away with their own definition. Which second means researchers like me have to scan hundreds of websites to find and understand the strategies of states as opposed to digging through one or half a dozen federal websites.
This morning, by chance, a friend found a state creative economy report that addresses the issues I’ve discussed the past couple of days. Funnily enough the report is on CreativeEconomy.org! It’s hard to express the joy I had while reading this report. The Creative Economy: A New Definition , which was release by the New England Foundation for the Arts, makes a clear and concise case for redefining the creative sector in the US.
I have not yet read the full report but I did scan the document for the charts and tables delineating the creative sectors to be redefined. Happily I found the discussion in Part II of the report. The author’s equivalent to the European “creative industries” is referred to as a “cultural workforce.” They define this as “work that directly produces cultural goods, regardless of industry; or, work within an industry that makes cultural goods and/or services, regardless of actual work task.“ This workforce includes “occupations and industries that focus on the production and distribution of cultural goods, services and intellectual property.”
Yes! Now we are talking. Now we are looking at a broader definition of the creative sector that is more inclusive than just those “industries that create and distribute art.” The authors of the New England report refer to this cross section as “artistic occupations” and they also make the same point that I made yesterday. These occupations do belong to the cultural workforce but the cultural workforce is larger than just artistic occupations.
The top ten cultural workforce occupations in New England are designers, librarians, visual artists, architects, writers, editors, library assistants, advertising sales agents, musicians and PR specialists. The top ten artistic occupations in New England are architects, designers, visual artists, photographers, writers, actors, producers, dancers, musicians, announcers, entertainers and all artistic. Artistic occupations are an important subset of the cultural workforce but the creative economy depends on a much larger group of workers than just those working in the arts. I think its time other states start to follow the lead of the New England Foundation for the Arts.
Now that I’ve found this report and feel comfortable that good work is being done on reasonably defining the creative economy in the US, I can move onto something else. Like trying to get states and economists to agree on this defnition…