DC sets forth strategy to support area creatives

The District of Columbia’s artists, designers and other creative talents are a vital component to the economic stability and growth of the city, says a new study.

How vital?

According to an eighteen-month joint study between the DC Office of Planning and the Washington DC Economic Partnership, more than 75,000 jobs, which generate over $5 billion in annual income, can be attributed to the District’s creatives.

The study also acknowledges the creative community’s importance in “softer” revitalization efforts in underserved neighborhoods. Through arts and creative urbanism residents, visitors and city officials are able to further a “sense of place” with positive outcomes for city planning, public education and workforce development initiatives, the study said. Specific areas such as U and 14th Street, Anacostia and others mentioned as section of the District that have become vibrant through the help of artists, musicians and other creatives.

“This study puts the District in a new light – we are truly a creative city, where creativity and talent combine to enliven our community and enhance our competitiveness,” Harriet Tregoning, Director of the DC Office of Planning, said about the report. “The creative economy is also helping to reconnect and revitalize emerging areas of the city and helping neighborhoods develop an even more distinctive sense of place.”

In conjunction with these findings, Mayor Adrian Fenty announced the release of his administration’s Creative DC Action Agenda. Spanning the design, media, performing and visual arts sectors, as well as the museum, heritage, and culinary industries, the Creative DC Action Agenda outlines a plan to support and grow the District’s creative economy.

As part of the Action Agenda, the city will make available its economic, asset, and land use review practices to strengthen the District’s creative economy. Some of the components of the plan included:

  • Defining and categorizing the District’s creative assets
  • Assessing the economic significance of the District’s economic competitiveness
  • Assessing opportunities associated with creative economy support systems, like education, funding, facilities, land use and other infrastructure
  • Developing a set of actions and recommendations

But the report also found that, “While there is a strong support system that underlies the creative economy, its effectiveness has been somewhat constrained by a lack of effective coordination and leadership and limited cross-segment and cross-generational network.”

One way the District’s creatives and the city government are working to address this known shortfall is through Digital Capital Week, the District’s first ever digital arts and technology festival. DC WEEK has held events in nearly every corner of the city, garnering attention from all levels of government and private industry.

The 75-page report outlines not just how to support the creative community that exists, it seeks to cultivate the District’s creative economy over the long-term through arts education – using public schools and philanthropic education – internships, creative job banks and defining creative career paths.

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