It is undeniable that New York City is recognized worldwide for its influence on the arts and a beacon of creativity. The creative economy, spanning the performing arts, fashion, gaming, advertising, design and more, is both a cultural necessity and an integral part of New York City’s economic recovery. But in recent years, we have lagged behind cities like London and Las Vegas in channeling a culture of creativity and innovation into economic growth.
Before the pandemic, a city led report had the creative sector accounting for 13%, about $110 billion, of the city’s total economic output, with 12% of all creative industry jobs located in New York City, a stark contrast to less than 3% of all jobs nationwide. According to the creative business networkthe creative economy is expected to grow up to 40% globally by 2030. As our country’s and New York’s economy continues to evolve post-pandemic, New York City needs organized systemic plans now that maximize opportunity economic developments and job creation in this high-level region. industry with growth potential.
New York is full of creative entrepreneurs and businesses, so why is this industry left alone here while competing cities around the world seize the opportunity? I have engaged with creative industry leaders in several international cities and built an immersive arts, entertainment and events district, AREA15, in Las Vegas, which opened three years ago not far from the famous Las Vegas Strip. Cities like London have committed to a deliberate, comprehensive and long-term approach to building their creative economy. Why isn’t New York in the lead?
To harness the full potential of the creative economy, we must make investments and prioritize policies that create more opportunities for individuals, small businesses, and startups to thrive. Taking a page from London’s creative strategy, New York could look at its policies on integrating culture into major infrastructure projects or developing Creative Enterprise Zones, clusters of safe, permanent and affordable spaces for creative production. New York City is bursting with creative spaces and always has been, but now there needs to be more investment behind it.
New York also needs to work with the private sector to build its creative economy strategy. In it Culture for all Londoners landmark plan, the mayor presented policy ideas such as funding job placement and training initiatives within the fashion industries, and increasing creative business engagement with London & Partners, the city’s tourism agency.
It is not enough to recognize the importance of the creative economy. Collaboration is essential in creative spaces, and New York City must put in place an environment where ideas can be tested, shared, and explored. Across the country, cities are working together to develop special advisory committees made up of city staff, local community leaders, and members of the artist community called artistic working groups. At the global level, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development built a Creative Economy Networka platform for creatives from around the world to share information and collaborate.
The creative sector is an essential part of generating economic opportunity in what is likely to be a challenging economic environment in the coming years. We have seen that support for the creative sector has started to increase, but it is far from what is needed. Recently, AREA15 Announced that Universal Parks & Resorts will anchor District AREA15 in Las Vegas, expanding on this already impactful creative experience. This partnership with Universal is just one example of how companies built on creativity and offering innovative experiences are poised to grow.
New York has already done some work to support its creative sector, as has the state for the first time $25 million Digital Game Development Tax Credit Program. This is the kind of economic policy that will keep New York as the creative capital of the world. We must also take a hard look at policies that create portable benefits and protections in the workplace, strengthen training programs, expand jobs, and update zoning regulations to allow more flexibility for creative spaces.
New York is well positioned based on its existing reputation and wealth of talent to capture this type of growth. Although it won’t look the same as something like AREA15, there is no limit to what can be imagined and created in New York.
We need to stimulate a creative ecosystem where we support comprehensive public-private partnerships and build platforms to accelerate business growth across the creative industry and create more jobs. This is not up for debate: the creative economy is a crucial piece of New York City’s legacy and future.
Fisher is a Partner at Fisher Brothers, CEO of AREA15, and Co-Chairman of the New York City Regional Economic Development Council.
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