Darryl Anderson* is forty years old, and a Seattle native. Darryl has been working in video production at a local TV news station for fifteen years, and recently lost his job. With having to pay his own health insurance and rising housing costs, Darryl is uncertain of how to continue working and living in Seattle. Darryl is struggling to make a living as a creative professional in this city.
In order to better understand the state of Seattle’s creative economy and the challenges facing local creators like Darryl, the Office of Film + Music (OFM) conducted a Creative Economy Survey in September 2017. The creative economy is defined as the network of industries whose work, products or services are inherently creative or artistic. This includes sectors such as architecture, creative technology such as virtual reality, preforming arts, music, film and media, and other fields.
The Creative Economy Survey was an online questionnaire, distributed through OFM and partner organizations’ networks. This should be not viewed as as a scientific study or representational sample of the entire city. A forthcoming study will be designed to be more inclusive, comprehensive, and reflective of many facets of the economy. That said, of the 549 people who responded to this survey, we were able to begin to recognize some broad trends that will help inform future study. Here are some of our findings:
People of color more often rated financial resources and professional development as “very necessary” to achieving success in their creative careers. 35% of people of color rated financial resources as very difficult to access, as opposed to 19% of white respondents.
The Office of Film + Music is committed to ensuring that all communities are fairly represented in the forthcoming study.
Survey respondents emphasized how much they value Seattle’s reputation as a creative and progressive city. In their view, the creative economy benefits Seattle by developing Seattle’s unique global identity, creating a sense of community and increasing cultural diversity. When asked about their vision for the future, they stressed the importance of affordability, maintaining a vibrant arts and culture ecosystem, and diversity and inclusion.
This initial survey laid the groundwork for the larger Creative Economy Study to be completed this year. The results of the study, in conjunction with other data, will help the City move forward in finding solutions to help artists and creative professionals live and thrive in Seattle.
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*name has been changed to preserve anonymity