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UNM report: State needs to 'seize the moment' on creative economy

Santa Fe New Mexican, The (NM)

Aug. 13 --A new report by The University of New Mexico's Bureau of Business and Economic Research recommends that the state do more to foster the growth of the creative economy to help power New Mexico out of the recession.

The state Department of Cultural Affairs plans to release the study of the economic impact of New Mexico's arts and culture industries Wednesday in Albuquerque and discuss it again from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center .

Tilted "Building on the Past, Facing the Future: Renewing the Creative Economy of New Mexico ," the study says the arts and culture industry employs 43,031 people and accounts for 1 in 18 jobs in the state. That's about the same number of jobs as the state's construction industry offers and 50 percent more than the manufacturing industry has.

When jobs in cultural tourism, art and cultural education, and industries linked to the state's cultural heritage are included, the employment rate climbs to 1 in 10 jobs, the research states.

The industries generate an estimated $137 million in revenue for state and local governments, according to the study.

But the state needs to do more to build the arts and culture sector, according to Jeffrey Mitchell , a senior research scientist at the UNM business research bureau and the lead author of the report.

" New Mexico has tremendous and very unique assets and resources that historically -- and particularly until the last 10 or 15 years -- we've been able to bank on. But the way cultural and creative industries are operating is changing very significantly," he said Tuesday. "And New Mexico to this point has not done a very good job of adapting ... or leveraging those assets to better deal with the changing circumstances."

Mitchell believes the economic challenges New Mexico faces are "significantly underappreciated," and "this is an area of the economy where you would think we would be reasonably well positioned to move, and we're not."

The creative economy, driven by new technology, is now cutting edge, he said, and "the opportunity is ripe for us to move. I don't think the rest of the country is necessarily light years ahead. I think there's a window of opportunity that exists right now. It would behoove us to jump through that window. I'm concerned we're not seizing the moment."

The research bureau's analysis of the arts and culture industry, which is based in part on 200 interviews and 125 in-depth surveys with creative professionals, indicates its share of employment in New Mexico is about the same as other states, although New Mexicans are much more likely to be employed professionally as artists and artisans in galleries and museums and in other creative activities than people in other states.

In some parts of New Mexico , the report says, "the association with specific activities is truly extraordinary, such as galleries in Santa Fe and artisanship among the Native Nations."

New Mexicans, however, are less likely to work in higher-paying arts and culture fields such as media, advertising and software publishing.

To build the capacity for the growth of creative enterprises, the report lists 12 recommendations. One suggestion is to establish a business development center that would provide affordable information technology services and training to support artists and creative enterprises. The report also urges the state to enforce the Indian Arts and Crafts Act to protect Native artists against fraudulent sales and to emphasize cultural programming and collaboration.

Tom Aageson , director of the Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship , points out that the creative economy is one of the fastest growing sectors around the globe. Hawaii , Colorado and Massachusetts have offices for the creative economy, he said. The European Union is investing billions in a Create Europe initiative. And Latin America is starting to build policies.

"It's happening around the world, and this could be a huge opportunity for job creation in New Mexico ," Aageson said.

He welcomed the report as a way to jump-start the conversation in New Mexico . "This is the first arm of the state government that's ever talked about the creative industries. And that's good," Aageson said.

The proposed business development center for creative enterprises could be a good idea, he said, because "what has to be done from the point of view of leadership in New Mexico , as well as in Santa Fe , Albuquerque and Las Cruces , is to begin to implement the support for entrepreneurs in these industries."

Contact Anne Constable at 986-3022 or aconstable@sfnewmexicna.com .


(c)2014 The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.)

Visit The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.) at www.santafenewmexican.com

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in precious metal products, commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.
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