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Posted: March 29, 2010

Support your local creative enterprises

You can help them -- and they can help you

Neil McKenzie

In the first article I discussed how the creative sector is the fifth-largest sector of the Colorado economy, directly employing over 122,000 people-plus another 75,000 supporting these creative enterprises. This puts it slightly behind biotechnology/biomedical, IT and telecommunications and larger than defense/security, agribusiness, food processing and technology in terms of employment according to a recent study by the Colorado Council on the Arts.

So what is the creative sector? The study described Colorado's creative enterprises as: "The creative enterprises include nonprofit cultural institutions, commercial businesses that are producing and distributing products in which the creative content defines their market position, and, finally, the thousands of individuals who are self-employed." Broadly speaking the creative sector includes businesses and occupations in the design, film & media, heritage, literary and publishing, performing arts and visual arts & crafts fields.

Your business may be in the creative sector (whether you are aware of it or not) and chances are good that you do business with others who make up the creative economy. In everyday terms these are firms involved in advertising, public relations, films and video, publishing and printing, architectural, interior and landscape design, art, writing, dance, theater, music, museums, galleries and many more.

A few interesting figures from the study showed that Colorado has the highest concentration of architects, landscape architects and interior designers in the nation. The 2000 US Census determined that among all States, Colorado ranked Fifth in artists, Seventh in designers, writers and authors, Eighth in photographers and Ninth in producers, directors and musicians. Clearly Colorado is a magnet for the creative enterprise. It will be interesting to see how these rankings compare to the 2010 census that is underway.

One could make a strong argument that the creative sector is the original "Green Economy" in Colorado. Expanding for decades, this sector has a small environmental footprint, adds to our tourism offerings and helps attract new business to the State. Combined with Green Energy, our creative resources make Colorado a powerhouse in the green revolution.

If each of us takes a few steps to support our local creative enterprises it will add to our economy, enrich our lives and make Colorado an even better place to live and do business. Here are a few ideas on how you can help support Colorado's creative enterprises

• If you need advertising, design, public relations or video services consider using Colorado suppliers.
• Check out local performances instead of renting a video or going to a movie (unless it is one of the many films with a high Colorado content).
• When designing a building or tenant finish project keep local architects and interior designers in mind.
• Spend more of your vacation dollars in Colorado and be sure to visit some of our great cultural attractions.
• When talking to others about our state, be sure to tell them about one of our greatest resources - the creative economy and all of the benefits it brings.
• Get involved in supporting your local artists and arts organizations. They need help with financial resources but don't forget they also need help with time and business expertise.
• If you need to spruce up your office or home support our Colorado artists and crafts people.
• Support Local/State legislation and initiatives that enhance and promote our creative economy.

More information about Colorado's creative economy can be found here in the recently released study by the Colorado Council on the Arts "The State of Colorado's Creative Economy.
I look forward to having you as a regular reader, and if you have some comments or ideas please drop me a line.

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Neil McKenzie is an author, educator and consultant to artists and arts organizations in the areas of business and marketing planning.  His recently published book, The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox, was written to take the mystery out of business for artists and other creative professionals. He has more than 30 years experience as a management consultant and corporate marketing executive working with hundreds of organizations including some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a visiting professor at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where he developed and teaches Artrepreneurship; and at University College at the University of Denver, where he teaches the graduate course, Marketing for the Arts.  He is a frequent guest lecturer to artists and organizations in the creative sector and writes about the creative economy including several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization.  Neil can be reached at 720-339-3160, or






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Readers Respond

Neil, Love the fact that in your first article you point out that creativity is inherent in any business. Here, the line you draw from "creative" to "green" reveals unique insight. Thanks for encouraging Colorado businesses to keep it local. What can we as Colorado creatives do together to draw interest and revenue from out of state? By Mike Hanbery on 2010 04 27
HIGH! NEIL! Thank YOU! There are sooo many small businesses of the kind you describe that fly under the radar. Clowns, face painters, magicians, stilt walkers, Giant Parade Puppet troupes and more that help make Colorado a fun place to live. While our solar powered Bubble Tower Sculpture is popular at the Peoples Fair, the Colorado Irish Festival, the Longmont Festival on Main and other Colorado events, it is also gaining a reputation at events such as the Surprise Party in Surprise, AZ. Someday I hope for our Bubble Tower Sculpture to be selected for the Biennial of the Americas. Again, THANK YOU ! for taking the time to write . Cheers! Bill "Stretch" Coleman Bill Coleman Entertainment Walking tall and stretching imaginations! Stiltwalker -com youtube - com/stiltpro By Bill Coleman on 2010 04 01
Thanks so much for the excellent articles Neil! This is just what I have been looking for. I am starting out in the photography business and gathering all the information I can. I am really looking forward to the rest of your series! Thanks! Tim Trunnell By Tim Trunnell on 2010 03 30
Defining the creative sector to include what we traditional regard as the "arts" (visual arts, music, dance, film, etc) together with business activites that require a broader scope of design and creativity, makes much sense. Who would have thought that this segment of the economy would be rank 5th in Colorado. Best of all, as Neil points out its environmental footprint is small. Well said! By Suzanne Kaller on 2010 03 30

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