Understanding the Creative Economy

"Creative industries are becoming increasingly important components of modern post-industrial knowledge-based economies. Not only are they thought to account for higher than average growth and job creation, they are also vehicles of cultural identity that play an important role in fostering cultural diversity."   - Understanding Creative Industries: Cultural statistics for public-policy making.

Denver’s creative sector consists of 3,613 enterprises and employs 20,398 people in the city, and those numbers are growing. The sector includes eight arts districts, more than 120 galleries, 160 performance venues and approximately 180 film-related businesses. Whether a not-for-profit theatre company, band, production company or independent artist, creative enterprises contribute greatly to Denver’s quality of life and economy by offering unique experiences to residents and tourists, improving communities, providing jobs, and attracting a talented workforce.

The concept of creative industries is relatively new and remains in flux. Leading organizations such as UNESCO defines them as “those industries that combine the creation, production and commercialization of products which are intangible and cultural in nature. These contents are typically protected by copyright and they can take the form of goods or services.”

More than 25 years since UNESCO released a framework for cultural statistics (in 1987) there is still no agreement on a methodology for measuring the creative industries. In addition to the collection of statistics across countries, data are also collected by individual countries. Good official statistics that ‘prove’ the contribution of creative sectors to the overall economy, have in many cases resulted in processes seeking to investigate the contribution at a regional or local level.

Measurement and mapping of the creative industries help ‘prove’ the contribution of creative sectors to the overall economy and make the advocacy case for government to support these industries. Read more.

Learn how to participate in the Creative Industries Study
Since 2004 Americans for the Arts has produced the Creative Industries: Business & Employment in the Arts report, a study of the nonprofit and for-profit arts-related businesses in America. In 2012, its analysis revealed that 905,689 arts businesses employed roughly 3.35 million people. But we know this is an undercount!

Americans for the Arts urges all individual artists and arts organizations to register online for a free D-U-N-S number—or if they already have a D-U-N-S number, to ensure that they are accurately coded as an arts-related business.
Americans for the Arts has compiled step-by-step directions for registering with Dun & Bradstreet. The application process takes less than 10 minutes. It’s fast and free.
To take the next step, click below to obtain more information:
•    If you’re ready to Sign Up and Be Counted, view instructions for signing up with Dun & Bradstreet
•    If you already have a D-U-N-S number, view directions for updating your business profile

There has been a conservative approach nationally to defining the Creative Industries by focusing solely on businesses involved in the production or distribution of the arts. Creative Industries are composed of arts-centric businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and advertising companies. We have guarded against overstatement of the sector by excluding industries such as computer programming and scientific research—both creative, but not focused on the arts.
View a summary of the Creative Industries Classifications.

By documenting business and employment data for both the nonprofit and for-profit arts sectors, you can paint a picture of a powerful engine in your community's information economy. What makes this data especially potent is that it can be localized to any city, county, state, region, or political jurisdiction in the country, and it can be updated annually so that you can track trend data.
View a list of key points (pdf, 41KB) on how this data provides a valuable visibility and advocacy tool for advancing the arts.

View more national data findings.