San Antonio is a city on the rise, and so is its creative economy.
When considering the livability of a city, the cultural vibrancy of the people and places that make up the city must be considered. The impact of creativity and the arts is universal and and both can positively affect all sectors of a community. According to a recent report released by the U.S. Commerce Department in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the arts and culture sector is larger than the U.S. travel and tourism sector. A total of $504 billion, or 3.2% of the gross domestic product, came from this sector, which spans several industries and ranges from performance arts, to museums and cultural venues, to television and movie production, and more.
- Other data provided by the Americans for the Arts states:
- 93% of Americans believe that the arts are vital to providing a well-rounded education.
- 72% of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they are seeking when hiring.
When the department (then called the Office of Cultural Affairs) completed its first report on the creative economy in 2003, San Antonio was one of the first cities to look beyond the nonprofit arts and incorporate the for-profit creative sectors into the data collection. The 2006 report was also unique in that it included data on independent artists, writers, and performers.
The total economic impact of San Antonio's creative industry reached $4.6 billion in 2011 with employment rising 11.6% since 2006. Both private and public partnerships are coming together to make political and financial commitments to develop and market San Antonio as a thriving creative center.
Consider some of these examples. The local culinary scene is rapidly expanding with star chefs serving San Antonio to the nation; urban corridors such as the Broadway Reach are coming together to collectively stimulate a once-booming thoroughfare; between 2012-2017, over $10 million will be invested in the urban landscape through public art projects; Geekdom collaborative coworking space is raising the city's intellectual capital; "The Decade of Downtown" will yield the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, the Henry Ford Academy: Alameda School of Art + Design relocated to the heart of downtown, and bachelor of fine arts degree program at the Southwest School of Art, and a transformed HemisFair Park (now Hemisfair) that will sparkle.
There is more work and plenty of opportunity ahead. The SA2020 Arts & Culture vision for San Antonio to "lead the world as a creative community" is a bold vision-- as it should be. At its core, this statement reflects San Antonians' recognition of the arts, culture, and creativity as key components of economic prosperity and a heightened quality of life.
The bottom line is, the return on the investment in arts is exponential. By directing dollars to the arts, the community is also leveraging support for educational systems, healthcare, economic development, public safety, and social change.