Study: Wisconsin’s creative industries have $9.7 billion annual impact

Support more than 94,000 jobs statewide


Wisconsin’s creative industries have a $9.7 billion annual economic impact, according to a new study from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The annual Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account study tracks the economic impact of arts and cultural production nationally from 35 nonprofit and commercial industries. Among the report’s findings, Wisconsin’s arts and cultural production account for $9.75 billion, or 3.1%, of the Wisconsin economy. Those industries support 94,167 jobs and create $5.6 billion in compensation for creative workers, according to the report.

Arts Wisconsin, a statewide cultural development organization, noted that the creative industry employment numbers are greater than Wisconsin’s beer jobs (63,000), biotech (35,000) and papermaking (31,000) industries.

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“The takeaway is that the creative industry, which ranges from nonprofit organizations to design firms to TV stations, is a force to be reckoned with,” said Anne Katz, director of Arts Wisconsin. “To succeed in the 21st century, Wisconsin needs diversity in its economy. Hopefully, we will continue to be a strong manufacturing and agriculture state, but also a very creative state. We want to make sure that our decision makers know this and that people pay attention that it’s a sector worthy of investment.”

According to the study, Wisconsin’s top five creative and arts industries, measured by the value they add to the economy, are: printed goods manufacturing, other goods manufacturing, custom architectural woodwork and metalwork manufacturing, publishing and construction.

Katz said she’s encouraged to see a growing awareness of “creativity as a resource,” at a time when the state’s economy is undergoing major shifts.

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“We’re not going backward to where GM has a plant in Janesville and Oscar Mayer is in Madison and the papermaking industry is a robust one,” she said. “Things are changing and we have to find new ways of doing things … I’m encouraged because I see the tide is turning. Our message is that artists aren’t over here and everything else is over there. It’s all connected in terms of community development and workforce development.”

According to the study, the arts and cultural sector contributed $804.2 billion or 4.3 percent to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2016.

The states that are the fastest-growing for the percentage of their gross state product coming from arts and cultural industries include: Washington (11.9%), Georgia (11.1%), Utah (10.2%), Nevada (9.8%), California (7.8%), Tennessee (7.8%), New Mexico (7.7%), South Carolina (7.5%), Florida (7.1%), Montana (6.6%), Oregon (6.5%), Colorado (6.3%) and Massachusetts (6.2%).

From 2014 to 2016, the average annual growth rate in the contribution of arts and culture was 5.9%, slightly higher than Wisconsin’s growth rate of 5.4%.

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