With its worldwide reputation for a booming energy sector, Houston's creative side is easy to overlook. But a just-released study, commissioned by the Houston Arts Alliance and conducted by EMSI, paints the city's economy as ripe for future creative growth.
At a Tuesday morning press conference at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, filmmakers, clothing designers, artists, architects, photographers, musicians, graphic designers, novelists, choreographers and more joined up with city officials and heads of creative organizations to reveal the findings of The Creative Economy of Houston study.
"The business of Houston is business, and our eyes are always on the bottom line," Mayor Annise Parker said to the diverse crowd.
Parker noted that the study's findings — a conservative quantification of how much the Arts and the creative sector impacts the Houston economy — are important to note in the city's push for job creation and economic sustainability.
The report finds that Houston's creative industry saw an eight percent gain between 2001 and 2011; it's expected to grow another seven percent in the next five years.
According to the report, 146,625 individuals in the Houston metropolitan statistical area had creative jobs in a creative or non-creative industry, or non-creative jobs in a creative industry, in 2011. That's more than are employed in the city's finance and real estate sector, more even than the Texas Medical Center employs.
Overall, the creative industry earned $4.32 billion in 2011, with an economic impact of more than $9.1 billion.
The report finds that Houston's creative industry saw an eight percent gain between 2001 and 2011. It's expected to grow another seven percent in the next five years.
An important facet of the report is its correlation between other creative cities: Houston's current statistics and future projections are viewed in comparison to Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Though this city's creative sector is still quite small in comparison to the others, Houston and Dallas were the only two to see positive job growth in the past decade, with projections of continuing that growth at a rapid pace.
Houston and Dallas were the only two to see positive job growth in the past decade, with projections to continue that growth at a rapid pace.
Plus, the median earnings per creative worker are higher in Houston than anywhere else, at $21.58 per hour, which — coupled with great demand (only about half of the $21.93 billion spent on creative goods and services in 2011 was produced and sold locally) — renders the city an ideal spot for creatives.
Based on a seven-point list of considerations, followed by a list of issue topics and talking points in a "takeaways" section, that seems the aim of the nearly 50-page report.
Houston's diversity and its history of success and job growth even throughout the recession, plus recent kudos as the coolest city in America makes this seem an easy sell. But will it be?