Arts industries representing large share of business


400-WITT-SE-FESTIVAL_8019According to a new research study published by Americans for the Arts, using statistical data provided by Dun & Bradstreet, the authors of the study have informed Historic City News that St. Johns County is home to 714 creative industries; employing about 1,861 people.

If accurate, approximately 4.7 percent of all St Johns County businesses, and 2.3 percent of the overall employment in the county, are part of a robust creative industry — figures that would highlight the economic importance of the arts locally.

“This report demonstrates the breadth and depth of the economic value of the arts and related businesses in what we refer to as the creative industries here in St. Johns County,” remarks Andrew Witt, executive director of the St. Johns Cultural Council.

The Creative Industries are defined as arts businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and design companies. Arts businesses, and the creative people they employ, stimulate innovation, strengthen America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace, and play an important role in building and sustaining economic vibrancy.

“A mapping analysis shows that these businesses are broadly distributed and thriving throughout St Johns County; not, as is sometimes believed, strictly in the downtown areas,” according to Witt’s analysis of the report.

The results, circulated by Witt and the Cultural Council yesterday, titled “Creative Industries: Business & Employment in the Arts in St. Johns County” was conducted by Americans for the Arts; the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education.

Witt asserts that the report includes analyses of 11,000 unique political and geographic regions in the United States and is current as of January 2014.

“The analysis demonstrates a larger-than-expected prevalence of arts business establishments,” Witt wrote to reporters in an e-mail.

Arts Industry Resilient

Nationwide, the Creative Industries reports reveal that arts businesses are formidable: 750,453 businesses involved in the creation or distribution of the arts employ 3.1 million people. This represents 4.2 percent of all U.S. businesses and 2.1 percent of all U.S. employees, respectively. One of the remarkable national findings from the research, which dates back to 2004, is that arts businesses and employment have maintained this share of businesses and employment during the nation’s up and down economic cycles-demonstrating that the Creative Industries are as resilient and durable as other sectors of the economy.

“The Creative Industries reports are powerful tools for understanding what a major force arts and culture businesses are for the economy-not only nationally, but also locally, in every community across our country,” says Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “These reports should be in every legislator’s office and every city hall, reminding community leaders that the arts are key drivers of the local economy, new employers, jobs, and improvement of the quality of life through their work. The Creative Industries say one thing loud and clear: the arts mean business!”

Importance of Arts Education
Arts education is a critical tool for fueling St. Johns County’s 714 arts-centric businesses with the creative workers they need to thrive as well as helping develop new arts consumers who will engage with these businesses on a variety of levels, from attending local arts events to purchasing goods from arts supply stores or taking music lessons. According to U.S. employers surveyed for Ready to Innovate, a collaborative report between the Conference Board and Americans for the Arts, “Creativity” has risen to among the top applied skills sought by business leaders-with study of the arts emerging as a leading indicator of employee creativity. Teaching our children how to think creatively is vital to preparing them to be successful in the 21st century workforce.


The Creative Industries reports are created by Americans for the Arts using Dun & Bradstreet business data. Downloadable reports for the nation’s 435 federal legislative districts, all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 3,144 counties, and 7,400 state legislative districts, along with national comparative reports, can be freely downloaded at

Research Notes: The Creative Industries data are based solely on active U.S. businesses that have registered with Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). Because not all businesses register, our analyses indicate an under-representation of nonprofit arts organizations and individual artists in the data. The data in this report, therefore, should be considered conservative.

Like many major data providers, including the federal government, D&B periodically reviews its database for accuracy by removing inactive businesses and adding new active ones. After a large-scale, post-recession database cleaning, D&B reduced the total number of active U.S. business records in its database to approximately 18.0 million in January 2014, down from 21.3 million in January 2012 (-15.8 percent). As such, year-to-year changes through 2014 may not represent a trend increase or decline, but rather stem from a more accurate tally of the active business population. These 2014 data are the most current and accurate data available and represent a new baseline for the Creative Industries data.

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