Inclusive Creative Industries

Creative industries are built on jobs that use creative skills and produce creative results across all industries. The sectors within the creative industries span from traditional creative careers such as music, film, graphic design, and performing arts to careers in software development, computer programming, publishing, marketing, and more. Creative industries bring people and businesses together through the use of agile, innovative, digital and creative skills to produce products and services that may or may not traditionally be recognized as “creative.” Who are a part of the creative industries? Examples include film technicians, graphic designers, freelance journalists, nightclub owners, software developers, film production companies, musicians, music and performance venue lighting and sound technicians, to name a few.

Creative skills and job sectors are integral to an inclusive economy by driving job creation and growth across all of Seattle’s business sectors. As automation and technological advances impact the future of work, the “network economy” — where people work together across time and distance through technology and digitalization — will be in high demand for workers and businesses that have strong creative skills. Creative industries businesses will become more resilient, and these creative skills will be less likely to be fully replaced by automation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exasperated economic and racial disparities and accelerated our transition into the network economy. To align with citywide recovery efforts and our rapidly evolving economy, OED’s   Inclusive Creative Industries initiative will partner with public, private, community, and industry stakeholders to implement economic strategies that prioritize education, workforce development, and  investments that;

  • Support lower-earning creative workers transition into middle and higher earning jobs,
  • Support and expand creative economy sectors and
  • Better connect businesses and workers with the creative skills that will be in high demand in the Network Economy.

Seattle has a rich history of cultural innovation and creative risk taking that invents the future. Our commerce, arts, and culture are recognized around the world, and a robust creative workforce nourishes our entrepreneurial spirit. Seattle's creative industries are a vital source of fuel that will drive our economy into the future.

For Seattle to thrive, we need to deepen, align, and expand our partnerships and programs to better prepare our workforce, businesses, and infrastructure, to build a creative economy that is inclusive and equitable  of everyone,  to stop the growth of racial and economic disparities.  We ground this work in a commitment to race and social justice, economic data, and deep community and industry listening. To achieve those goals, the Office of Film and Music is leading the new Inclusive Creative Industry initiative as a citywide economic development priority.

Seattle's creative industries total nearly 70,000 creative workers, are essential to this city's identity, and are powerful economic drivers.  These workers are employed by businesses, or are self-employed in sectors such as film, music, special events, nightlife, the arts, tech and others. COVID-19 has significantly impacted these businesses and workers, especially art and entertainment workers who have seen some of the worst job and income losses. As a result, workers and businesses in these sectors must be prioritized as we work toward a truly inclusive economic recovery for Seattle.  Creative industries produce and commercialize both creative content, products and services, as well as products and services we do not typically associate with creative jobs. Creativity itself can be defined as the ability to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that are useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining. Can you connect the dots of a complex situation? Can you generate new solutions to new problems? What do you do when you don't know what to do? The creative industry is built on businesses and workers that navigate these questions and situations using agile, creative, socio-emotional and digital skills.

In 2019, Mayor Durkan declared the Inclusive Creative Industries initiative a priority, when creative industries in Seattle were growing faster than the overall GDP, and the workforce was diversifying faster than most industries. Creative industries contributed 18% of Seattle’s gross regional product compared to 4% of U.S. GDP. Each new job in a creative industry creates a total of three local jobs. The creative sector is a vehicle to rebuild our economy more inclusively because of its collaborative nature that brings businesses and workers together across occupations and sectors.  The ability of Seattle’s leading businesses and sectors to innovate and grow depends on the existence of a vibrant creative sector, a robust small business ecosystem, and access to equitable talent development systems.

The 20th century was driven by the “manufacturing economy,” which then transitioned to the “knowledge economy” with the advancement of technologies. The knowledge economy is characterized by an increase in demand for  high-wage intellectual and technology occupations, and a hollowing out of middle wage  lower-wage occupations. Seattle, who experienced significant economic gains in the knowledge economy, has some of the highest and lowest earning creative workers in the country--representing a growing divide between the people, businesses, and neighborhoods that are benefitting from tech-driven growth and those that are not.

Prior to Covid-19, the City began preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a projection that automation and artificial intelligence will augment high-wage knowledge workers and replace low-wage service and retail occupations, to propel a transition into the “network economy.” The network economy will be driven by creative, imaginative, and technically inventive work that increasingly leverages technology in its inspiration, production and distribution.

COVID-19 has both sped up the transition to the network economy, and has had a devastating impact on BIPOC communities, creative industry businesses, and workers. The City’s inclusive economic development strategy aims to help businesses and workers recover from the pandemic, and build a thriving more equitable economic opportunities. OED will partner with public, private, community, and industry stakeholders to implement economic strategies that prioritize education, workforce development, and investments that;

  • Support lower-earning creative workers transition into middle and higher earning jobs,
  • Support and expand creative sectors to ensure the growth of creative economy sectors, and
  • Better connect businesses and workers with the creative skills that will be in high demand in the Network Economy.