Otis College of Art and Design released its 2015 Creative Economy Report on February 27 and for its annual showing of the importance of this sector in California if not the nation gave a summary of facts and figures designed to advocate on behalf of the importance of the Creative Economy. By the study’s count, the Creative Economy is responsible for 744,100 direct, indirect and induced jobs in the LA region alone, which is nearly 1 of every 6 jobs. It generates $177 Billion annually, outpacing every other city in the US as a robust location of the Creative Economy.
What came next though is what needs to be really looked at. Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winning Economist gave the key note lecture based on themes outlined in his book “The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future”. It became clear immediately that while the United States may have identified statistics for its Creative Economy, its overall health is subject to the same ill health of income inequity gripping the nation and our social enterprise. It is not enough to cite broad figures about jobs and gross revenue without looking closely at the overall economy and factoring in that the Creative Economy is if anything as vulnerable a piece of the eco-structure as other areas of the national economy.
As the Stiglitz book elaborates, extreme income inequality is really a kind of disease that intrudes into all aspects of our social, political, economic and even legal system. A tiny elite is able to effectively purchase laws and regulations that work in its favor.
As stated in the NY Times about Stiglitz’ views, “It is not uncontrollable technological and social change that has produced a two-tier society, Stiglitz argues, but the exercise of political power by moneyed interests over legislative and regulatory processes. “While there may be underlying economic forces at play,” he writes, “politics have shaped the market, and shaped it in ways that advantage the top at the expense of the rest.”
Given the vicious Presidential campaign underway, and the theme of income inequity in the foreground that questions the degree of wealth trending into the hands of the few, is this also not the case in arts and culture? We have to question the lack of immunity in the Creative Economy to the same forces Stiglitz describes and begin to finds methods and solutions and the political will immediately to stabilize what we care about and are deeply invested in.
See the full Los Angeles region report, and download the PDF at www.otis.edu/otisreport