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Creativity Means Business: The Arts As An Economic Driver

Published onApr 13, 2012
Creativity Means Business: The Arts As An Economic Driver

The keynote speaker for the Wake Forest Journal of Business and Intellectual Property Law’s symposium “Avenue of the Arts: Connecting Creativity, Economics, and the Law” was the North Carolina Secretary of Cultural Resources, Linda Carlisle.  Her position may best be described as the chief advocate and supporter for the arts and other cultural aspects of society.  Drawing upon her extensive experience in the private sector as a corporate executive with Bank of America, an entrepreneur in the copier business, and a strong community activist with an artistic lean, Secretary Carlisle is a strong leader and advocate for the arts in North Carolina.  Throughout her keynote address, the Secretary emphasized the economic importance of a part of modern society that is often seen as anything but economic.

While many have often viewed the arts and other creative avenues as luxuries or sources of recreation, the Secretary argued that the arts are a vital part of our state’s, or any state’s for that matter, economy.  Throughout her speech she emphasized the artists, rather than the art itself.  Artists are employed and help lead to the employment of others, while art may be seen as a nice product or a byproduct of the artist’s work.  Her job involves helping to fight for support for artists as small businesses.  She seeks to provide them with the financial and legal support that they need so that they may get their businesses and work off the ground.  Given the traditional support, or lack thereof, for the arts, it is vital that someone such as the Secretary fight to provide the art community with the support that it needs.

In her discussion of the impact that the arts have on North Carolina, the Secretary mentioned that her department had found the arts to be indispensable to the state of North Carolina through their studies.  They found that not only do the arts create jobs, but they also draw tourists to the state and provide a variety of ancillary benefits.  The creative economy in North Carolina directly employs 165,000 people and helps to sustain 300,000 jobs throughout the state.  5.5% of the entire workforce of North Carolina works in the creative sector, greater than the proportion of North Carolina citizens working in the financial sector.  They are responsible for $41 billion in goods and services per year.  Creative jobs are a relatively stable part of a growing economy, as they cannot easily be outsourced.  Plus, the Secretary and her colleagues have discovered that the presence of creative professionals is the greatest factor impacting how much tourists will spend in a location, how high the average household salary will be for a given area, and how quickly an area will grow.

The state of North Carolina is frequently picked as one of the best places to live and work in the country.  With one of the highest concentrations of heritage and cultural assets in the country, the state is a prime location for the cultivation of the arts.  Often, money and labor follow creative ideas and the arts.  In order for North Carolina to continue being a competitive workplace and great place to live, the Secretary argues for greater support and stimulation of the arts.

*  Pierce Haar is a second-year law student at Wake Forest University School of Law and a member of the Pro Bono Board, serving as the Special Trips Coordinator.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Peace, War, and Defense from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Upon graduation in May 2013, Mr. Haar intends to practice either criminal law or civil litigation.


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