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District's Creative Economy Generates $5 Billion in Income

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

(Washington, DC) - The District’s creative industries generate more than $5 billion worth of income each year, according to an assessment recently conducted by the DC Office of Planning and Washington DC Economic Partnership.

“The economic significance of the creative sector is clear - creative enterprises play a key role in contributing to the District’s economic vibrancy through tourism, income generation, and business incubation,” said Harriet Tregoning, Director of the Office of Planning.  “Now, more than ever, we have an opportunity to harness the extensive talent in the city in a way that will position the District as a global leader in creative industries.”

Today, there are more than 75,000 direct jobs in the District’s creative sector, which amount to more than 10 percent of the city’s employment base. The District’s creative base includes building arts, design, media, communications, performing/visual arts, museum management and culinary arts.  Most of the District’s creative jobs are in commercial enterprises focused on a subset of the creative economy, which includes media, culinary arts, museum management and design.

The assessment revealed that the District’s international assets – the presence of embassies, international non-governmental organizations and diversity of residents - competitively position it for expanding the existing creative niche with unique cultural assets that have international appeal.

“In this challenged economy, it is important for us to know that we have an incredible creative base of individuals and unique businesses that can be leveraged in ways we have not done before,” said Steve Moore, President of the Washington DC Economic Partnership.

The assessment also highlights that the creative economy provides an opportunity to activate vacant and underutilized sites with arts and creative uses to maintain stability in the city’s economy, extend employment opportunities to under- or unemployed residents, and enhance communities through arts and cultural uses.

The findings of the assessment were announced at the Creative Economy Forum, held at one of the District’s key creative locales, the Harman Center for the Arts, located in downtown DC. Forum participants, which included more than 200 leaders of key cultural institutions and enterprises, discussed ways that arts education, workforce development, and networking could strengthen the District’s creative economy.

Both the Forum and the assessment are components of the Creative DC Action Agenda, a first-of-its-kind initiative by the DC Office of Planning and Washington DC Economic Partnership, to establish strategies to strengthen the District’s creative economy. A final report will be issued in Summer 2009 that outlines key activities, which may include: developing land use policies that better support creative industries; bolstering creative support systems such as postsecondary training; and facilitating solutions-oriented discussions.

For information on the Creative DC Action Agenda, contact Sakina Khan of the DC Office of Planning at (202) 442-7600 or at [email protected]