Measuring Chicago's Creative Economy

Last summer the Cultural Policy Center, a joint program of Chicago Harris and NORC, released three reports on the creative industry in Chicago. Taken together they provide a nuanced look at the creative professionals working here, what happens to the city's arts students after they graduate and how much public grant funding Chicago receives compared to peer cities. (Data on national outliers New York and Los Angeles were not included.)

The reports come at an exciting time for Chicago's arts scene. In 2012, the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events released a new cultural plan, the first in more than two decades. The papers support the plan's goal to attract and retain creative professionals by providing "an important baseline," explains Cultural Policy Center Executive Director Betty Farrell. Lead author Jennifer Novak-Leonard adds that they provide "an objective benchmark to see how Chicago compares with other cities and to monitor the robustness of its creative and artist workforces."

Now the center is partnering with the Joyce Foundation and city officials to help shape Chicago arts research going forward. They are soliciting input from arts organizations, funders, business leaders and government officials and plan to release an agenda this academic year. 

– Will Anderson

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