Creative Sector Action Plan
Leaders in government, business, and the creative sector agree there is a critical need for statewide analysis and coordinated action to advance the creative economy. To this end, The Vermont Creative Network is developing a comprehensive, research-based action plan.
As of December 2019, the project is half complete. Hundreds of constituents contributed information about the opportunities and challenges for the creative sector through focus groups, interviews, and an online survey. Combined with economic analysis from census and tax sources, a clear picture of the creative landscape is emerging.
key findings from 2018 data
- Vermont’s share of creative economy jobs (9.3% of all employment) is higher than the average across the United States. The majority of those jobs are in design, specialty foods, and visual arts and crafts
- The creative sector has always had a high proportion of self-employment; this is especially true in Vermont where nearly 50% of Vermont’s creatives are self-employed or freelance (as compared to less than 40% nationally)
- While the concentration of creative sector jobs in Vermont is higher than the national average, the pace of Vermont’s creative sector growth from 2010-2018 is lagging (8% growth vs. 14% nationally)
Based on information gleaned so far, the Network’s priorities for amplifying the creative sector center on:
marketing creativity: Our reputation for creativity and innovation should be recognized as part of what defines Vermont’s identity and as something that attracts and retains creative entrepreneurs and young people to our state
investing in creative enterprises and individuals: Economic incentives, access to capital, and business and marketing support are needed to encourage development and to sustain creative enterprises such as makerspaces, design firms, arts guilds, and galleries
educating, training, and supporting emerging entrepreneurs: high schools, career and technical education centers, and colleges need support in providing creative sector-related skills matched to the workforce needs of Vermont’s businesses
leveraging cross-sector intersections/partnerships to amplify economic and community development: Profitable connections can be forged between creative businesses and other sectors of Vermont’s economy (such as agriculture/food production and outdoor recreation)
Creativity and innovation are the heart of the Vermont brand, attracting tourists and new residents, creating jobs, and advancing economic growth. 2020 is a year of looking forward. Our focus moves to sharing information and identifying the key statewide and regional action steps that will best serve the creative sector in the next decade.
The consulting team for this project includes Mt. Auburn Associates, the lead contractor, and its partners Melissa Levy of Vermont-based Community Roots, and Stuart Rosenfeld. Mt. Auburn Associates and Stuart Rosenfeld have worked collaboratively for over a decade on creative economy plans for states and cities across the nation (including Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Berkshire County, MA). Stuart Rosenfeld and Melissa Levy worked together on the creative economy plan recently completed for the Northeast Kingdom.
This project is supported by major grants from Jane’s Trust and The Windham Foundation. We are also grateful for support from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the National Life Group Foundation.