The Economics of Creativity

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    September 26, 2017

The Economics of Creativity


This month marked the release of a newly updated economic study commissioned by our local Arts & Science Council and conducted by Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit organization. As champions for the continued investment in and support of the creative community, each of us at Wray Ward is proud to be part of a strong creative ecosystem. And now, hard facts and figures validate a belief we’ve held all along: creatives aren’t just a culture catalyst — they’re a powerful economic engine. 

Here are just a few compelling findings about the creative economy:

  • $360MM total regional economic impact of the arts 
  • $343MM county economic impact — a 20 percent increase over five years
  • 58K total regional creative jobs including for-profit and nonprofit positions in 72 different industries
  • 10x more regional creative jobs than attorneys, and as many as the two largest employers (Wells Fargo and Carolinas HealthCare System) combined
  • $2.8B total earnings for individuals in those positions
  • $31.5MM total local and state government revenues
  • 5.85MM total regional attendance at arts events including nearly 900K nonresidents
  • $25.85 spent by residents and $51.26 spent by nonresidents in addition to admission price of an arts event
  • 20K volunteers who together gave more than 836K hours of their time, valued at $19M 

It’s clear we have a strong and robust creative community — one that not only helps in attracting and retaining great, young talent as well as companies looking for that talent, but one that also makes a significant contribution to our economy. So, what should we do with such convincing results?

First and foremost, each of us in the creative community must commit to continue growing what we have.

As an agency, Wray Ward hires creative workers (today, we have nearly 100 of them).

But we also hire vendors — from printers to production companies — to support the pursuit of better performing work for our clients. We give to the arts through our service and financial support. We work with local colleges to help develop and inspire the next generation of creative talent through our FORM internship program. We partner with community leaders from the Arts & Science Council, Charlotte Chamber, Charlotte Regional Visitors’ Authority and Charlotte Center City Partners.

Photo credit: Arts & Science Council

We sponsor critical initiatives like Charlotte Creates (a partnership of the Charlotte Chamber, Innovation Institute and Arts & Science Council) and Creative Mornings Charlotte as well as this economic impact study.

But preserving and growing our creative legacy isn’t just the responsibility of the 58,000 creatives working in our region. It’s up to all of us, from business and government leaders making important decisions on behalf of their constituents, to the parents or teachers who give a child their first box of crayons, to the couple who purchases tickets to a show.    

Photo credit: Arts & Science Council

Whether you’re a visual artist or performance artist, designer, architect, chef, banker or doctor, Charlotte resident or visitor, I hope you’ll join 58,000 creative professionals in embracing and nurturing a vibrant creative landscape. Together, we can preserve and grow the creative spirit of our great city and region, for the sake of each other as well as future generations.

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