A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Reports shows state’s ‘often misunderstood’ creative industry generates $1.9B in earnings

Kentucky’s creative industry generates $1.9 billion in earnings and accounts for 2.5 percent overall Kentucky employment, according to the just-released Kentucky Creative Industry Report.

Commissioned by the Kentucky Arts Council, the report creates a baseline assessment of the number of people employed by Kentucky’s creative enterprises, the industry’s economic impact, and an examination of its convergence with other important economic sectors.

The creative industry includes all individuals and companies whose products and services originate in artistic, cultural, creative, authentic and/or aesthetic content. The industry accounts for 108,498 jobs, with the average wage of a creative worker in Kentucky is $34,299, although salary and wages fluctuate greatly.

The reports cover featured this Lincoln mural by Eduardo Kobra of Lexington.

The report’s cover featured this Lincoln mural by Eduardo Kobra of Lexington.

“This information has been highly anticipated by many Kentuckians, both in the general public and stakeholders of Kentucky’s creative industry,” said Lori Meadows, arts council executive director. “The creative industry as a whole is often misunderstood; creative jobs are often viewed from the outside as hobbies. We are very hopeful the results of this report can be used to facilitate meaningful conversations about the future of the creative industry and its contributions to the state’s overall economic well-being.”

Creative employment, for the purposes of the study, includes individuals and groups working in fields traditionally defined as the arts, such as visual arts, craft, music, dance, theater and literature. It also includes enterprises in creative fields that may be regarded as applied and technical or even more commercial, such as broadcasting, publishing, recording, film and video production, advertising, product design, graphic arts, architecture and interior design.

To further capture the full effect of these creative enterprises, the study focuses on major industries in the value chains, the enterprises necessary for producing goods and services, as well as distribution channels for getting creative services and products to consumers.

“The Kentucky Arts Council took a conservative approach to collecting data about its creative industry, which will serve the state well as it continues to develop the segments and enterprises that make up the industry,” said Beth Siegel, president and CEO of Mt. Auburn Associates, the firm that authored the report. “The data is firm. The Kentucky creative industry could be a significant growth sector of Kentucky’s economy if it is given time and attention by the appropriate support systems at the local and state levels.”

In addition to data and an understanding of the makeup of the creative industry, the report includes four case studies of the creative industry at work in Kentucky. The report also includes recommendations for the Kentucky Arts Council, other state government agencies and creative industry stakeholders to consider in further expansion of the creative industry.

The arts council will take the lead in implementing the findings of the 120-page report during the next two years. The agency has created a new staff position, a creative industry director, to facilitate those efforts.

The 120-page report is available online here.

From Kentucky Arts Council

(Slider photo from Kentucky Creative Industry Report/Riverpark Center)

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