Creative Industries Fuel California’s Economy; Still, Could They Use a Boost?

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Last Friday Otis College of Art and Design issued its biannual report on the “creative economy.” This report, developed with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, estimates the numbers of people who are involved in “creative industries,” ranging from entertainment and fashion to toy design and architecture, and the contribution they make to the economy.

To date the study has focused on Los Angeles, but this year Robert A. Kleinhenz, Chief Economist at the LACEDC’s Kyser Center for Economic Research, expanded his research statewide. Despite being unable to factor in the large numbers of freelancers in arts and design, he was able to conclude that “nearly 8 percent of California’s product or revenue comes from the creative sector.” He also found that talent is concentrated in Los Angeles, which accounts for 44 percent of the workers in “creative” occupations.

Samuel-HoiThe goal of the report, explained Otis head Sammy Hoi, is to shine a spotlight on the important role of the arts, design and related manufacturing in the Californian economy, so as to make the case for expanding arts education and other incentives to creative industries.

(In related news, this week Sammy Hoi, left, announced his decision to leave Otis, after 14 years as director; in July he will take the position of president of Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.)

One speaker at the event Friday, Keith McNutt, Director of Western Region, The Actors Fund, emphasized the need for tax incentives that would help keep movie production in Los Angeles, saying that the loss of thousands of production jobs from the state were a drag on an otherwise buoyant creative economy.

These themes will be addressed today at an informational hearing to be held in Sacramento by State Senator Ted Lieu. Speakers include Hoi, Kleinhenz, McNutt and many others. Listen up later today for Warren Olney’s interview with Senator Lieu, to air on Which Way LA and All Things Considered.

I love new yorkOne of the other themes of McNutt’s presentation was the need for LA to consolidate its creative economy under a shared brand, and he asked if LA’s wide-ranging design industries needed a unifying logo akin to New York’s (right, designed in 1977 by Milton Glaser).

As DnA’s Carren Jao pointed out, this a theme that Mayor Garcetti has been emphasizing that since he came into office, telling crowds at public events that LA is great at creating narratives in entertainment but “does not tell its own story very well.”

Is that true? Do LA’s creative industries need incentives? Do they need to be branded? What should that brand look like? Let us know your thoughts.