The District has a $5 Billion Creative Economy

DC’s Creative Employment and Income is Significant

Contact: Sean Madigan
Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development
(202) 727-4707 / (202) 615-2029

April 2, 2009

Washington, D.C.—An assessment conducted by the DC Office of Planning and Washington DC Economic Partnership has found that jobs in the city’s creative industries generated $5 billion in earnings in 2007.

Today, there are more than 75,000 direct jobs in the District’s creative sector, which amount to more than 10% of the city’s employment base. The District’s creative base includes building arts, design, media, communications, performing/visual arts, museum management, and culinary arts. Most of DC’s creative jobs are in commercial enterprises focused on a subset of the creative economy which includes media, culinary arts, museum management and design.

“The economic significance of the creative sector is clear – creative enterprises play a key role in contributing to the District’s economic vibrancy through tourism, income generation, and business incubation,” said Harriet Tregoning, Director of the Office of Planning. “Now, more than ever, we have an opportunity to harness the extensive talent in the city in a way that will position the District as a global leader in creativity and innovation.”

The assessment revealed that DC’s international assets – the presence of embassies, international non-governmental organizations and diversity of residents – competitively position it for expanding the existing creative niche with unique cultural assets that have international appeal.

“In this challenged economy, it is important for us to know that we have an incredible creative base of individuals and innovative businesses that can be leveraged in ways we have not done before,” said Steve Moore, President of the Washington DC Economic Partnership.

The assessment also highlights that the creative economy provides an opportunity to activate vacant and underutilized sites with arts and creative uses to maintain stability in the city’s economy, extend employment opportunities to under- or unemployed residents, and enhance communities through arts and cultural uses.

The findings of the assessment were announced at the Creative Economy Forum, held at one of the District’s key creative locales, the Harman Center for the Arts, located in Downtown DC. Forum participants, which included more than 200 leaders of key cultural institutions and enterprises, discussed ways that arts education, workforce development, and networking could strengthen the District’s creative economy. To view the Creative Economy Forum presentation, click here.

Both the Forum and the assessment are components of the Creative DC Action Agenda, a first-of-its-kind initiative by the DC Office of Planning and Washington DC Economic Partnership, to establish strategies to strengthen the District’s creative economy. A final report will be issued in Summer 2009 that outlines key activities which may include: developing land use policies that better support creative industries; bolstering creative support systems such as post-secondary training; and facilitating solutions-oriented discussions. More information can be found here.


The WDCEP is a 501(c)3 non-profit, public/private partnership dedicated to promoting business opportunities throughout DC and contributing to business retention and attraction activities. For more information visit

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