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Creative Economy


In conjunction with the Indiana Arts Commission, Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. commissioned the Community Research Institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne to conduct a review of the Creative Economy for the State of Indiana. The Indiana Public Policy Institute then benchmarked that information against national data. The Creative Economy is defined by the New England Creative Economy Framework as a range of “occupations and industries that focus on the production and distribution of cultural goods, services and intellectual property.” This review of the Creative Economy contains a baseline profile of Creative Industries and Creative Occupations, for the state of Indiana, by Indiana Arts Commission-designated regions and by county, and compared to the U.S.

"Creative Economy is at the heart of all economy, as it sets the stage for job creation, talent attraction and retention, and the sought-after quality of life demanded by employers, employees, and their families."

Lewis Ricci, Executive Director, Indiana Arts Commission

Scope and Description

The purpose of this review is to gather and establish a baseline profile of Indiana’s Creative Economy to support the activities of the Indiana Arts Commission and its Regional Arts Partners as they seek to:

  • Communicate the impact of the Creative Economy to decision makers, policy makers, academics, community leaders, and practitioners;
  • Identify, classify and measure the contributions of artists and “creatives” to Indiana’s workforce;
  • Strengthen communities across the State of Indiana by measuring and communicating the impact of the Creative Economy at state, regional and county levels; and
  • Initiate a best practice of utilizing data to benchmark the Creative Economy, develop performance metrics, and initiate discussion about long-term strategies that align with broader goals for economic development and quality of life.

The review is achieved by compiling data about total creative jobs by: Creative Industry (e.g. dance companies, museums, historic sites, architecture firms); and, Creative Occupation (e.g. artists, graphic designers, musicians). Definitions for jobs vs occupations can be found on page six of the complete report.

Key Findings

1. Overall employment in Indiana’s Creative Industries have declined since the recession, while overall employment in Creative Occupations increased.

  • Indiana’s change in overall employment in the Creative Industries was slower than the U.S.
  • Indiana’s growth in overall employment in all industries outpaced growth in the Creative Industries.
  • Indiana’s Creative Occupations increased overall, but at a lower rate than Creative Occupations nationally.

2. Indiana’s Creative Economy primarily consists of self-employed individuals.

  • Indiana experienced growth in the number of self-employed individuals in Creative Occupations and Industries.
  • Indiana has a greater proportion of self-employed members of the Creative Economy than the U.S.
  • Indiana wages lag behind the U.S. among self-employed individuals in the Creative Economy.
  • The top self-employed Creative Occupations and Industries in Indiana did not vary much across regions.

3. Average wages in Indiana’s Creative Industries and Occupations generally lagged behind national averages and other industries in Indiana.

  • Wages in Indiana’s Creative Industries were substantially lower than national averages.
  • Average wages within Indiana varied when compared to other Indiana industries.
  • The lowest and highest paid Creative Occupations were similar in Indiana and the U.S.

4. Types of creative employment varied across regions and compared to national trends.

  • Indiana has stronger trends toward independent artists, which differs from national trends.
  • Many of Indiana’s top growing jobs were among the lowest paid.
  • Growth and decline among Creative Industries and payroll occupations varied across regions; however, there was more growth among jobs in digital media, and greater declines among print media.
  • The top growing Creative Industries in IAC arts regions sometimes differed from the top growing Creative Industries in the U.S.

5. Central Indiana has the strongest trends and opportunities for the state’s Creative Economy

  • The Indianapolis metro area over-represents the state’s Creative Economy.
  • Central Indiana experienced growth in its Creative Economy, including counties bordering Region 7.
  • Some rural counties within arts regions may have lower performing Creative Economies.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Indiana lags behind U.S. trends in growing its Creative Economy.

Recommendation: Consider the extent to which Indiana should follow national trends in creative employment and why.

Indiana has a strong self-employed creative class, which may exist due to fewer opportunities to work in a payroll position.

Recommendation: Balance Indiana’s trend toward a self-employed creative class with payroll opportunities for employees in the Creative Economy.

Central Indiana, including the Indianapolis metro and surrounding towns of Columbus, Nashville, and Bloomington, is a hub for the state’s creative activity.

Recommendation: Identify reasons for fewer employed creative opportunities outside of Central Indiana and clarify context for growth and/or sustainability of the Creative Economy at the regional level.