An Initial Look At America's Creative Economy

​​The National Creativity Network announces the release of America's Creative Economy: A Study of Recent Conceptions, Definitions, and Approaches to Measurement Across the USA. The 141-page free report is the most comprehensive study to date on creative economies across America – especially focused on how regions and organizations conceptualize and track that segment of their local economy that fosters and taps imagination, creativity, and innovation to create and deliver goods, products, and services.​

A total of 27 reports published between 2002 – 2012 were analyzed by the research team as a project of the Creative Economy Coalition (CEC), a working group of the National Creativity Network, and informed by the CEC National Research Advisory Council. Reports and interviews from medium and large cities and their surrounding environs, entire states, and regional studies covering many states were gathered and analyzed. Over half of the states in America are represented in the report, a testament to the widespread interest of communities to better understand, measure, and grow their creative economies. These developments are consistent with worldwide interest in creative economies ranging from longstanding creative economy efforts in the United Kingdom, many Commonwealth countries, other nations and regions in Europe, and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), to recent and growing interest in South America, Africa, and Asia.

One of the report's many findings is that, while there is considerable variation in how regions of the US measure their creative economies, there is also considerable overlap. Many regions have discovered that their creative economies equal or exceed the size of other important sectors of their economies. Regions also report that policy makers are increasingly interested in learning about the creative economy. There is wide recognition that further refinements of tools and approaches are needed if creative economies are going to advance in public consciousness and economic development plans and policies. The report was co-authored by Christine Harris of Christine Harris Connections, Margaret Collins, Executive Director of the Center for Creative Economy, and Dennis Cheek, Executive Director of the National Creativity Network. Christine and Margaret, reflecting on the research and many conversations that informed this effort, noted that the report “makes clear that efforts to understand and measure local creative economies to stimulate growth and competitive differentiation are alive and well across states, regions, and cities of the United States.”

The Creative Economy Coalition (CEC), a formal working group of the National Creativity Network, comprises organizations that are actively seeking to advance, measure, compare, track progress, and accelerate the growth of creative economies across America. This report is a direct outgrowth of the expressed needs of CEC members to learn from one another and improve existing efforts. Interested organizations are urged to join the CEC conversation and connect with like-minded organizations focused on the creative economy.

The National Creativity Network (NCN) is a US-based international nonprofit established in 2010  that seeks to advance the skillful application of imagination, creativity, and innovation (I-C-I) to positively improve education, commerce, culture, and government across North America. The NCN connects like-minded regions that want to share information, ideas and strategies with one another as well as learn from existing efforts in North America and around the globe. The NCN sponsors webinars and other regular communications concerning imagination, creativity and innovation as well as co-sponsoring the 2013 USA Creative Business Cup. The NCN will hold its next annual meeting on November 18-19, 2013 in collaboration with Creative Oklahoma’s State of Creativity Forum in Oklahoma City. Speakers and attendees from throughout North America as well as several other countries are expected to participate.  Highlights will include an NCN-sponsored panel discussion focused on perspectives on the creative economy across North America. To register for the combined event, visit the Creative Oklahoma website (​).

America’s Creative Economy was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from Americans for the Arts, Maine Center for Creativity, Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, North Carolina Arts Council, South Arts, Westaf, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. The Creative Alliance of Milwaukee served as the fiscal agent for the effort. The full report as well as an executive summary can be downloaded for free from and may be freely distributed in its entirety to interested parties.

For more information on this story, please contact:

George Tzougros, Board Chairperson, National Creativity Network and Executive Director, Wisconsin Arts Board | 608.267.2006 | E-mail

Christine Harris, Principal Researcher and Lead Author | Christine Harris Connections | 414.379.1011 | E-mail

Dennis Cheek | Executive Director, National Creativity Network | 904.859.6088 | E-mail​