Colorado’s creative enterprises alone employed over 122,000 individuals in about 8,000 establishments. This accounts for 3.9% of the state’s estimated 3.2 million jobs, making it Colorado’s 5th largest employment sector, almost as large as biotechnology/biomedical and IT & telecommunications, and larger than defense & security and agribusiness, food processing & technology. Employee earnings in these jobs, including employee benefits, were about $5 billion. Another 64,000 individuals worked in creative occupations in non-creative enterprises.
“This research clearly demonstrates that the creative sector is a large and important sector of Colorado’s economy,” said Colorado Lt. Governor, Barbara O’Brien. “Our next step is to more fully understand the challenges in each industry sub-group and identify areas of opportunity.”
Colorado is a magnet for creative talent, ranking 5th among all states for concentration of artists. Only New York, California, Massachusetts and Vermont have a higher concentration of creative talent. Colorado ranks 2nd in concentration of architects, 7th in concentration of writers, designers, entertainers and performers, and 8th in concentration of photographers.
“Anecdotally we knew that Colorado was home to a large number of creative businesses and creative talent,” said Elaine Mariner, executive director, Colorado Council on the Arts. “Now we have the statistics to prove that the creative sector is a critical part of our state’s economy and could be an important driver for economic growth.”
For this study, a creative enterprise is defined as any company for which the primary value of its products or services is rooted in its emotional and aesthetic appeal to the customer. A creative occupation is defined as a job in either a creative industry or non-creative industry in which the work itself is inherently creative or artistic. The creative economy encompasses both of these groups, which overlap.
The study categorized creative industries into six sub-groups: design, film and media, heritage, literary and publishing, performing arts, and visual arts and crafts. Colorado’s strengths are design, literary and publishing, and film and media which represent 73% of all creative industry jobs.