2011 Otis Report: The Creative Economy is Powerful

Thu, 11/10/2011 (All day)

Samuel Hoi, Otis CollegeAt the November 9th presentation of the 2011 Otis Report of the Creative Economy, the message was clear: the creative economy has a major impact throughout Southern California, and the area is uniquely positioned to continue to build on its wealth of local talent, reputation for innovation and open attitudes toward new ideas.  The annual Report on the Creative Economy puts real numbers to creativity in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, quantifying the economic impact of the cultural sector.  The 2011 report is available for download at Otis' website.

The event was held at the Colburn School, and its President & CEO, Sel Kardan, provided welcoming remarks.  Otis College President Samuel Hoi (pictured, right) told attendees previous Otis Reports had been viewed online in 36 languages from 598 cities internationally, increasing visibility for the importance of the Southern California cultural sector.  Hoi mentioned the value of combining data with storytelling to advocate for arts & culture and arts education, and applauded the increased focus on cultural participation, equity and access for all who live, work and attend school in our region.  "The native strains of Southern California-- our place, our time, our people-- are unique, and this creativity cannot be outsourced," Hoi said. 

Dr. Nancy D. Sidhu, V.P. and Chief Economist in the Kyser Center for Economic Research of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, provided an overview of the report's key findings. Dr. Sidhu noted that the creative economy brings in an excess of $2 billion in sales & receipts for the region annually, and also has a high economic multiplier effect throughout other sectors.  She emphasized that although the report does measure economic impact, there are less tangible results of a strong creative economy, including making the city more desireable to residents and visitors.  Employment statistics should be considered very low estimates, as not all creative sector workers declare their positions to the IRS or work full-time within the sector. 

Dr. Sidhu's Final ThoughtsFacts shared with the crowd included:

  • The Creative Economy is the 4th largest employment cluster (out of 66) in Los Angeles County
  • It accounts for 1 in 8 jobs locally, including 300,800 direct jobs
  • Creative sector activity generates over $3.1 billion in state and local tax revenues
  • 20% of the area's tourists are considered cultural tourists; this group accounts for 35% of tourism revenues
  • For every ten jobs in the creative sector, nine additional full-time jobs are supported (i.e. vendors, etc.)

Total creative sector jobs saw a decrease from the previous year's report.  Dr. Sidhu attributed this decrease to declines in manufacturing jobs in fashion, toys and home design.  She predicted modest improvements in the coming year for jobs in entertainment, advertising and design, level job numbers for architecture and interior design, and potential additional declines in jobs in home furnishing and furniture design.  "Los Angeles has a creative culture with great potential.  It is a big business, a serious business, and the conditions for success are unique and hard to duplicate," Dr. Sidhu told attendees.

Dr. Sidhu's presentation was followed by a panel discussion moderated by James Canales, President and CEO of the James Irvine FoundationRussell Goldsmith, Chairman and CEO of City National Bank and chair of the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs, and Joan Weinstein, Deputy Director for the J. Paul Getty Foundation, joined Mr. Canales in dialogue regarding the impact of the creative economy and creative capital in the Los Angeles region. 

Canales praised the Otis Report as a resource for the entire sector that provides shared metrics and tools for advocacy.  He emphasized the importance of creative capital and the quality-of-life impact of arts and culture, encouraging panelists and attendees to take a "both/and" approach to this quantitative and qualitative data. 

Joan Weinstein, James Canales and Russell GoldsmithWeinstein spoke about the unprecendented collaboration surrounding Pacific Standard Time, a project of over 68 art institutions to celebrate the birth of the LA art scene.  She described PST's ambitious joint marketing initiative and its anticipated impact on cultural tourism.  "We wanted to raise the visibility of Los Angeles as a cultural center, and help to re-write history from what we call a Left Coast perspective," Weinstein said, attributing PST's success to the richness of artistic talent within Southern California. 

Goldsmith spoke to the importance of an educated workforce capable of growing the creative economy to take advantage of opportunities in innovative design and technology.  "We need political leadership to foster and develop the creative economy... this sector is valuable to government.  They can be smarter and more effective in fostering creative talent that will increase local quality of life and stimulate tourism," noted Goldsmith, who also spoke to the need for arts and cultural information within regional transportation hubs, notably LAX airport.   

Goldsmith also stressed the need to support cultural infrastructure and invest in arts education, including colleges and universities that train creative professionals. 

Otis President Samuel Hoi ended the event by drawing a line between arts education and a strong creative sector, encouraging the region to "invest in arts education K-12 and beyond to increase cultural participation and grow human capital for long-term sustainability." 

Arts for LA encourages arts and arts education advocates to visit the Creative Economy website and download the report.