The creative sector is booming in Philly

Gary Steuer: "You are a sector and you matter."
Gary Steuer: "You are a sector and you matter."
Posted: June 20, 2012

WHILE ERICA Hawthorne's Small But Mighty Grants may look to bolster the little guys in Philly's creative economy, the small guys aren't the only ones on the rise in the city.

A new report compiled by the Econsult Corp. for the city's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy looks at how many people are employed by the creative sector in Philadelphia. Although previous studies have tallied the number of creative jobs here, this is the first study to look at all jobs — including ostensibly noncreative jobs — involved in the arts in Philadelphia, from dancers to security guards at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The study found that the creative sector is the fourth-highest employment sector in the city — behind only health care, educational services and retail, and is responsible for 48,900 jobs. One in every 15 workers in Philadelphia is a part of the creative sector, a number that has grown 6.3 percent over the past decade.

Gary Steuer, chief cultural officer of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, pointed out that many jobs in the creative sector come from small businesses. Steuer said that it's difficult to compare those numbers to those of other cities because there's no uniform definition of what counts as the creative sector, but that his office looked at criteria other cities used in keeping with a national standard.

Steuer said that a report like this should have two messages. The first is to the creative sector. Music clubs and fashion designers don't often think of themselves in the same league as nonprofit institutions like the Kimmel Center or the Art Museum and, therefore don't act together, but these seemingly different entities have similar interests. "You are a sector and you matter," Steuer said.

The other message is to the city: The creative sector is a vital part of its lifeblood.

"It's really important for our local economy," Steuer said, "and it doesn't necessarily get the attention it deserves in relation to the role it plays." n

—Molly Eichel

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