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Creative industries create 18,000 jobs in the region

Wright State University released a study today to prove the creative industries in the region affect more than just quality of life, they have a tangible economic impact, as well.

More than 18,000 jobs are generated by “creative industries” — from performers to artists to publishers and others — according to the economic impact study from the university’s Center for Urban and Public Affairs. And the fields generate $2.4 billion in sales and $799 million in labor income.

“It has a major impact on not only the lifestyle and the quality of life, but certainly the economy. It puts real dollars into people’s pockets and really promotes job growth,” said Hank Dahlman, director of the Ohio Center of Excellence for Collaborative Education, Leadership & Innovation in the Arts at Wright State.

The study measured the impact in “Raider Country,” which is the 16-county region served by Wright State that stretches from Clark and Champaign counties to Butler County. It adds to the local economic picture, which includes a study by the Greater Dayton Hospital Association that reported 31,000 people are employed by hospitals locally and an examination by the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education that counted 36,700 working at area colleges.

The Wright State study was modeled after a 2009 report on the entire state that found the creative industries contribute more than $25 billion to Ohio’s economy each year and support 231,200 jobs.

“We just want to add to the drumbeat that say it’s a smart thing to support the arts… Not only verbally but with our economic dollars at the statehouse and through private contributions,” Dahlman said.

Kristin Sobolik, dean of Wright State’s College of Liberal Arts, said the data showing the impact proves creative arts shouldn’t be discounted as public officials focus on growing the economy. “I think people have downplayed their importance and their ability to create jobs and impact the economy, and they’re basically dead wrong,” she said.

The study expands on past looks at the arts industries in the area. In 2013, Culture Works found that non-profits alone here contribute 4,800 jobs and $161.3 million to the economy in an eight-county region.

Many local organizations do low-cost or free performances, which make the arts accessible to all residents, said Martine Collier, president and CEO of Culture Works.

The exhibits, performances and other events “add to the color and vibrancy” of life in the area, said Stuart Secttor, executive director of the Clark State Community College Performing Arts Center, which will feature a sold-out show with John Legend March 1 for which tickets were only $20.

The arts industries do face challenges going forward, because many large companies that historically supported them financially have left the area, Collier said. But the industries have responded, she said, with innovate ways to cut costs and raise money through crowdfunding.

“It’s a very unique community to have this many arts entities for the size of the population,” she said. “Dayton is very lucky to have the breadth and depth of organizations that it does.”

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