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Houston’s Creative Economy Outpaces Most Cities

Houston's arts and creative economy is growing faster than those in most large U.S. cities. A study by the Houston Arts Alliance, University of Houston and Greater Houston Partnership — shows the creative community in Houston counts more jobs than the Texas Medical Center.


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The creative economy of Houston outpaces Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago and even Los Angeles.

The study examined growth in the creative sector over a decade, from 2001 to 2011, and found that Houston’s arts community grew by eight percent during that time.

Dallas was the only other city that grew in the creative sector, by one percent. The remaining cities in the study lost jobs.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced the findings at an event at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

“While we knew we were an arts destination and really making our mark on the international map as an arts city, the overall creative economy is much, much larger and has a much bigger impact, not just in Houston, but in the surrounding area. There are, by our definition, nearly 150,000 people doing more than $9 billion of economic impact annually.”

Parker says in the past, the city measured creativity by the number of people who attend arts events or the number of people who self-identify as artists.

This study looked at the broader creative community. So in addition to actors, musicians and dancers, the study includes make-up artists, graphic designers, fashion designers and other creative professions.

“And we tend to focus on the arts non-profits when we think about the creative economy. And this study takes us beyond those non-profits out into the business side of the creative economy.”

Dan Workman is a record producer and president of SugarHill Recording Studios. He says Houston’s reputation as a creative town is well known nationally, perhaps more so than to the people who live here.

“People that live in Houston, because we’re an unzoned major metropolitan area, we’ve never had this one place where music performance is the central location for the city. We’ve had little places, there used to be the Richmond Strip in the ’80’s, it’s Washington now. We have some things happening in downtown, but it’s all very diverse. So we don’t have that one destination. Therefore, a lot of time certain music genres, they don’t know what’s going on literally right next door.”

While the city’s creative economy is growing faster than the other cities in the study, and is projected to grow another 8 percent by 2016, the news isn’t all good.

Overall, Houston employs fewer people in creative jobs than the other five cities.

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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