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LA Arts: An Economic Powerhouse

Posted By: Arts Alive · 5/23/2014 10:26:00 AM

By Gail Eichenthal and Rowen Merrill

“Where the modern world was imagined and continues to be reinvented.” That’s how LA County Museum of Art Director and CEO Michael Govan describes the allure of Los Angeles. But what kind of economic impact does all this imagination and reinvention carry? According to recent surveys, a powerful impact, and a growing one.

On Monday, arts leaders and grantmakers gathered in a banquet room of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to discuss the results of several recent studies measuring the impact of the arts on the local and state economies. The luncheon was sponsored by Southern California Grantmakers, in association with the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and the Music Center, with Music Center President and CEO Stephen Rountree acting as a panelist.

The most dramatic numbers came from the  Otis Report on the Creative Economy, prepared for Otis College of Art and Design by the LA Economic Development Corporation. This report has expanded to include comprehensive state statistics, many of which will be amplified in next year’s findings.  

The report once again shows Los Angeles to be a powerhouse for the arts, the creative capital of the state and the nation. The  report, which investigates both the direct and indirect economic impact of the arts, shows that jobs related to the arts have risen from 1 in 8 to 1 in 7, a total of 726, 200 jobs in L.A. and Orange Counties alone. Statewide, nearly 45% of creative jobs are located in the L.A. region. Jobs related to the arts comprise nearly 8% of California’s gross state product.

Moderator Laura Zucker, Executive Director of the LA County Arts Commission, says that contrary to popular opinion, arts education in the public schools has flourished and even expanded since the 2008 recession, thanks to the Arts for All initiative, with the full support of parents. Samuel Hoi, President of Otis, who will step down this summer, says creative occupations comprise a high-skilled labor force, often requiring higher levels of education and training. Out of 80 creative occupations, 39 require a bachelor’s degree or higher.

After the luncheon, KUSC executive producer Gail Eichenthal spoke to both Laura Zucker and Michael Govan about the important takeaways. Zucker said it’s crucial for arts leaders and arts education advocates to tell their stories in every way possible.

LA County Museum of Art director and CEO Michael Govan says the length of a typical visit to LACMA is getting longer. But he believes if more money was poured into public transportation, thus increasing access, people would more willingly explore the Los Angeles Arts community. He told Gail he also wishes there was a better way to measure public satisfaction with the arts besides numbers.

For a look at the Music Center's new economic impact report, click here.

To take a look at the complete Otis report on the Creative Economy, click here

To take a look at the Transformation of LACMA, an Economic Impact Analysis, click here. 

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