Boston’s Creative Economy Council Reveals Findings

The country’s first Creative Economy Industry Director, Jason Schupbach, released the Creative Economy Council Mid-Year Report today on the web. What follows is a summary of that document with points of discussion that might interest the BostInnovation community.

The Legislation defines the creative economy to include “without limitation the many interlocking industry sectors that center on providing creative services such as advertising, architecture or creating and promoting intellectual property products such as arts, film, computer games, multimedia, or design.”

Governor Patrick tasked the Creative Economy Council with developing solutions to help foster Boston’s creative culture on January 29th, spurring our website, Bostinnovation.com.

That council has responded with a detailed set of goals and initiatives. Early in the document, it’s authors stated the following:

The first phase of the Creative Economy Council’s work was to talk with members of the sector about needs, pressing issues, and potential places where the state government can intervene to sustain and grow its creative economy. These are the key areas it pinpointed.

-Support for entrepreneurship *(BOOM! We love it.)*
-Rebranding Massachusetts as a creative state *(Uh, hello?! That was OUR idea!)*
-Clarification on the data measurement for the creative economy *(We’re not sure how they’ll do this…)*
-The need for continued state-provided financial support for cultural organizations, artists and tourism efforts, both in operating and capital funding *(“It takes money to unite this community, and we understand that.”)*
-Coordinated talent and workforce initiatives to support future job growth. *(“Growing the community is job one!”)*

Next, “The Council will be pulling together a strategic planning group charged with compiling legislative ideas and other efforts into an implementation plan, an update on which will be presented to the legislature in our report due December 2009.”

What does all this mean for the tech and innovation economy of Boston?

Good things.

But why is this important to the state?

“The Creative Economy provides a viable path within Massachusetts’ innovation economy for sustainable growth and economic development,” wrote the authors. “Furthermore, many economic impact studies demonstrate that a strong creative sector translates directly to a strong economy – our creative economy’s economic impact is in the billions and well over 100,000 people are employed within it.”

The document lists film and new media among it’s highest priorities moving forward, isolating the gaming and design industries as ones that are already well-established in the area. There are 76 video game companies in the region and 400,000 designers, according to the council. Also noted for its foothold in the region was the advertising community.

The Creative Economy Council went on to state goals including:
-Making Massachusetts THE leading creative economy state.
-Providing funding to numerous non-profits within the creative economy.
-Understanding the needs of the for-profit community and incentivizing it.
-Creating seed funding for creative entrepreneurs and making them available.
-Developing a Video game designer’s tax credit.
-Increasing artisict/entrepreneurial education.

If you’re part of the tech and innovation economy but none of the above applies to you, don’t worry. You haven’t been forgotten. The document went on to state the following:

“The Council will work to support the next generation of creative entrepreneurs (games developers, design firms, social media companies, etc.), small businesses and artists by supporting artists retention legislation and incorporating creative entrepreneurs into existing support systems and opportunities, such as the newly announced MassChallenge (a venture funds competition to catalyze innovation and high-value job creation in Massachusetts).”

As far as events go, the Council has goals to “develop a new hot creative signature event like SXSW in Austin or Spoletto.” They’re also hoping to hold a first-ever Massachusetts Design Festival.

The bad news is that the Council carries a mandate that is unfunded, so it’s work, specifically, will be relatively low-budget. It hopes to spend the next year “put[ting] together a comprehensive piece of creative economy legislation, a ‘Creative Economy Omnibus Bill.’ This bill will compile suggested pieces of legislation into one bill to prepare the creative sector for growth when the economy recovers.”

Unfortunately, it looks like we won’t be seeing many changes designed to pump our projects and goals during this recession, but we can look forward to a decided shift in the way our government treats the creative economy and the roll of tech and innovation within it after the economy begins to recover.

Our takeaway from the document?

Hold steady, bide your time, and press on entrepreneurs and tech businesses! The shift we want is underway!

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