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Everyday Business | Arts economy healthy in North Central Washington

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As it turns out, the state Arts Commission isn’t just standing around in its beret brooding over the Northwest’s lack of good taste in high-falutin’ art.

They’ve just released a study that shows the state’s art economy — including that of North Central Washington — grew by 7 percent in 2011. Measured categories included musicians, photographers, writers, dancers, designers, art directors, nonprofit organizations and arts retailers such as galleries, book stores, music stores and arts supply houses.


The study uses something called the Creative Vitality Index (CVI) to measure art participation — yep, that includes revenues and jobs — in 12 regions across the state. The NCW region includes Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan, Grant and Adams counties.


The latest data shows that NCW’s arts economy grew 6.91 percent in 2011 compared to the previous year. That’s the fifth-highest growth rate of the 12 regions, with the greatest growth in urban areas such as Spokane and Seattle.


In 2011, our five-county area added 153 arts jobs to bring our total to 2,367. By comparison, the Yakima-Kittitas-Klickitat region grew 0.47 percent and added only 12 jobs (2,554 total).


The fastest growing creative jobs around the state are radio & TV announcers with 95.28 percent growth, musicians and singers with 88.15 percent growth and graphic designers with 73.81 percent growth. The Arts Commission study highlights the explosion of film and video production in eastern Washington and the surge in the music economy of Seattle (from indie bands to the Seattle Youth Symphony).


So what’s all this add up to? Statewide, arts-related nonprofits and businesses had revenues of $1.84 billion in 2011. Art nonprofits revenues were 15 percent higher than the national baseline and book and record sales were 13 percent higher.