According to the 2009 Otis Report on the Creative Economy (.pdf) — sourced from the Otis College of Art and Design located in, you guessed it, Los Angeles — the city’s strong network of colleges and universities, its growth of new digital industries that attract skilled workers and (relatively) stable economy all help L.A. claim the throne as No. 1.
Part of the reason is that digital media has taken off in the city. Unemployment may be affecting the country, but the report forecasts a 10 percent increase in employment for digital artists from now through 2013. That includes animators, digital effects artists and motion graphics artists.
The report also highlights L.A.’s growing base of “nonemployer” firms — those with revenues but without paid employees, such as freelancers or creative professionals in the fine or performing arts. There are two self-employed people for every person working in a traditional firm in these disciplines, according to the report.
Los Angeles County counted $121 billion in creative receipts, better than all industries except tourism/hospitality and international trade.
But the city hasn’t done enough to promote its creativity beyond the entertainment industry, according to the report. A lack of recognition, insufficient government planning and support, lacking K‐12 school curriculum in the arts and tightening school district budgets are otherwise detracting from the city’s creative talent pool.
Is L.A. really creative capital of the world? The introspective report doesn’t compare the city on the world stage, so it’s hard to say. But if you believe in the creativity of the Mazda Miata, the SR-71 fighter jet, the Internet, the French Dip sandwich and yes, bare midriffs — the City of Angels is indeed king of creativity.