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A Line or Two: Minneapolis' Creative Economy by the Numbers

A handsomely designed 23-page report came by snail mail the other day: The Minneapolis Creative Vitality Index Report 2013. (a slightly revised pdf here) It's all about the economic contributions creative industries, from art-making to theater to interior design to sound engineering in recording studios, make to Minneapolis. And it's full of statistics and infographics that go into detail: which creative occupations are in growth mode, which art sectors produce the most retail sales, even which Minneapolis zip codes contain the highest concentrations of creative-sector jobs.
Produced by the City of Minneapolis, the report was written by Gülgün Kayim, the city's recently appointed  Director of Arts, Culture, and Creative Economy, and Anna Muessig. Economic Development Consultant.
The single statistic that underlies the report is a rather esoteric-looking one, at least to me--the Creative Vitality Index (CVI) for the entire Minneapolis-St Paul-Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area, aka Metro Minnesota. On page 14 of the report, you can see that our area's CVI as of 2010 (the last year surveyed) was 1.506, down from 2009's mark of 1.518, but still ahead of 2008's 1.481. (There was, of course, a Great Recession.) We can, I assume, be proud that our CVI is the sixth highest surveyed, trailing only (in top-down order) Washington DC, New York, LA, San Francisco, and Boston. In CVI terms, we are in, or very near, the cultural big leagues.

What's a CVI?
While there's no place in the report that explains exactly how these decimal indices were generated, the authors do offer concise general definitions of the CVI: "The Creative Vitality Index…is a tool that measures annual changes in the economic health of highly creative industries using information about organizational revenue, jobs, and other measures from creative businesses and nonprofits," they write. In other words, the CVI looks at the money made from art-related goods and services, and employment stats in creative industries, both on a per capita basis. (And "per capita" probably explains why Washington beats out New York in the CVI sweepstakes.)
 "By measuring the share of creative jobs, arts spending, and creative for-profit and nonprofit organizations in a given city or region," they write elsewhere, "the CVI captures nuances of the creative sector that many other measures miss." These nuances—statistical details—are the meat of the report.
The Basics

The Minneapolis creative sector pumps about $700 million into the economy yearly—that's 70 percent of sports-based revenue.
The creative sector employs close to 20,000 Minneapolitans, making up five percent of  all jobs in the city.
The per capita rate of revenue for theater companies in Minneapolis is fourteen times the national average.
Rates of revenue and charitable giving to nonprofits that present art in all forms in Minneapolis are 13.5 times the national average.
As healthy as our performing arts community is, sales of art, in galleries and independently, outpaced performing art revenue in 2011, $211 million to $187 million—testimony to a hot art market here as everywhere else.
I was intrigued by a pair of job statistics. Metro Minnesota accounts for 74 percent of all creative-industry jobs in the state, but Minneapolis for just 21 percent, which was rather lower than I had expected. The stat whetted my appetite for Saint Paul data, and to see which suburbs have the highest percentage of creative gigs.

Fashion Design Up, Dancers Down
Upward trends point to growing strengths. There was a 29 percent increase in the number of fashion designers in Minneapolis between 2002 and 2011, testimony to a really vibrant, burgeoning scene. The number of writers and authors has grown 19 percent in the same period. Photographers, multimedia artists, and—especially—agents have also flourished; in fact, agenting is the growth industry in the Minneapolis creative sector, up 43 percent.
Art-related economics aren't all rosy in the Mill City, of course; the authors point out that the housing crash hurt major sectors of the creative world, particularly architects—clustered in Minneapolis at a density four times the national average—and landscape designers.

And there's a particularly melancholy decline in the dance world. Dance-related occupations are down 25 percent in a city where dancers live at a density five times the national average. We've had a wondrous, and under-patronized, dance scene for years, and it's high time we realized it, supported it better, and bragged about it the way we do about theater.
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