Creative economy – Arts payroll exceeds software

New England’s creative industries provide more jobs and have more potential for growth than traditional leading industries such as biotechnology and computer software, a new report says.

“This report demonstrates that the arts are a significant and critical player in the New England economy — an economic engine in this knowledge-based economy that can no longer be ignored in order for the region to remain competitve,” said James T. Brett, president and chief executive officer of the New England Council, which released the report.

The region’s creative industry employs 245,000 people, or nearly 4 percent of the region’s total workforce, and generates more than $4.4 billion in payroll alone.

From 1993 to 1997, the creative sector added jobs in New England at a rate of 14 percent, compared to an 8 percent growth rate for the workforce as a whole.

The sector is projected to grow 18 percent between 1996 and 2006.  Creative occupations provide more jobs than do software or communications services, the report says.

It redefines the arts and culture as a creative industry culture that includes not only the nonprofit sector but also commercial activity and the contributions of individual artists.

The report is the first phase of “The Creative Economy Initiative,’ a collaborative project of The New England Council, the New England Foundation for the Arts, the six state arts councils and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The next phase will include meetings in each New England state to explore how to use the arts as a tool for economic development.

The study builds on the research commissioned by The New England Foundation for the Arts in 1996, but adds data on for-profit institutions and individual artists.

“What is also unique about this project is that it is being driven by the business community,” said Sam Miller, executive director of the New England Foundation for the Arts.

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