Kentucky Arts Council Study Will Assess Economic Impact of State’s Creative Industries

The Kentucky Arts Council’s creative industries study is underway. The state agency commissioned  Massachusetts firm Mt. Auburn Associates to conduct the study, which will cover economic impact data concerning the arts in Kentucky as well as case studies of successful creative industry and community initiatives and projects. A report is expected to be released in early October.

Driving funding for the state’s creative industries isn’t a main goal of the study, Communications Director Emily Moses says, but she says the Arts Council hopes the hard data included will help make the case for public and private support for creative initiatives. 

“Lots of times people end up having to prove that what they’re doing is working, or what they’re doing can work or make a difference –  in the quality of life, but also to attract tourism, to attract high quality workers to your area, to attract good-paying jobs to your area,” says Moses. “Lots of times people in the arts have to jump through lots of hoops to say, hey, this is valid. This is real.”

Moses says the report will include “a real, baseline assessment” of the number of artists and arts workers employed in Kentucky and how those jobs contribute to the state’s economy. 

“We’re looking at visual art and craft, graphic design, film and media, folk arts, writing, advertising, music, journalism, theatre, web design, product design, the list goes on,” says Moses. “We’re looking at creative workers as people who work in administrative jobs with an arts focus, as well as artists.”

Moses says the report’s case studies will help communities generate ideas about how they can use the arts to benefit their communities. 

“Maybe a community has a farmer’s market, and they have local growers who sell produce at their farmers’ market. Maybe they haven’t considered that they can expand their reach and draw more people in if they also invited local artists to come and sell their goods at their local market, too,” she says. “Maybe in a community they have an old theater or a building downtown that’s not being used for something. They would be able to re-purpose that space for local performances, or for local musicians to gather to have jam sessions.”

The council recently assembled an advisory group of twelve business and community leaders to weigh in on how the arts intersect with other industries in Kentucky.

How do they see the roles of their businesses working with the arts? How do they see their role with the arts and culture in Kentucky? Can they play a larger role? What does the arts community need to do to connect with them? How can we bridge these gaps? They’re giving us input on that,” says Moses. 

The advisory council is: Barbara Atwood, deputy commissioner, Kentucky Department of Parks; Lindy Casebier, deputy secretary, Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet; Victoria Faoro, executive director, Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea; Hal Goode, president and CEO, Kentucky Association for Economic Development; Aimee Hiller, senior vice president for administration, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Ed Lane, publisher and CEO, The Lane Report; Todd Lowe, president, Parthenon LLC; Kristel Smith, executive director, Kentucky Innovation Network, Eastern Kentucky University; Holland Spade, chief of staff, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development; Bob Stewart, secretary, Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet; Randall Vaughn, chairman and president, GNF Architects and Engineers P.S.C.; Roxi Witt, executive director, RiverPark Center.

The Arts Council will release two online surveys to collect information on Kentuckians’ engagement with the arts later this month. The results are expected to help inform the creative industries study and the Arts Council’s strategic plan.  

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