Otis Report on Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region
On November 10, 2010, Irvine CEO Jim Canales moderated a panel discussion about the 2010 Otis Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region. The panel included National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman and Ann Markusen, an economist and leading national arts researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
The Otis report found that the creative economy is the second largest business sector in Los Angeles County, bringing 835,000 direct and indirect jobs to the region, and generating $113 billion in sales in Los Angeles and $14 billion in Orange County. The Nov. 10 event included a presentation of the findings by Nancy Sidhu, chief economist of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., which prepared the report, and opening remarks by Samuel Hoi, president of the Otis College of Art and Design, which commissioned the report.
Watch video of the Nov. 10 event.
Following is a transcript of Jim Canales’ remarks.
Thank you, Sammy, for that kind introduction and thanks to Dr. Sidhu and her team for another informative and provocative report on the creative economy of the Los Angeles region. Once again, we owe Sammy Hoi and the Otis College of Art and Design a debt of gratitude for their leadership in providing a clear portrait of the significant impact that arts and creativity play in the Los Angeles region.
I suspect most of gathered here today do not need to be persuaded regarding the critical role of the arts in building vital communities and enriching our quality of life. And yet, from my vantage point leading a major philanthropic organization, it seems we can do better in making the case about the value of the arts, especially in the midst of the economic challenges facing our country today.
As Irvine’s CEO, I view making that case as one of my responsibilities. Given Irvine’s mission to expand opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society, it's relatively easy to describe how Irvine’s Youth program advances that mission, given our focus to increase the number of low-income youth in California who complete high school on time and succeed in college.
It’s also easy to describe our mission in action through our California Democracy program, which advances effective public policy decision making reflective of and responsive to all Californians. In the arts, however, it can be more difficult to draw the line between our mission and grantmaking, particularly when people see so much need in other areas and wonder whether our resources could be invested in ways that address basic human needs.
Nonetheless, if we at the Irvine Foundation are committed to helping the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society, we cannot do that without the arts. The arts and creativity are, to put it simply, essential to our quality of life.
We sing in our church choirs, we dance in our community centers, we are inspired by the power of the art and artists we experience in our concert halls and museums and theaters. Only through access to arts and cultural resources can we create and express ourselves, thereby enriching the intellectual and creative environment of our communities. Only through engaging in the arts can we widen our cultural, social, and intellectual horizons, enhancing our understanding of others in the increasingly diverse communities in which we live and work. Only through engaging in the arts can we express and exchange points of view about culture and community and build the bridges that turn cross-cultural divides into a rich and vital cultural tapestry.
Still, these reports and our own experiences tell us that our arts ecosystem is certainly not as healthy as it could be or needs to be to fully realize our common potential. Right here, in Los Angeles, artists still struggle to make ends meet, arts organizations are reducing their programming and sometimes even closing their doors. It’s at times such as these that we need to shape a narrative that makes a compelling case for the arts, shifting the narrative about the arts from a "nice to have” to a "must have". Both the Otis Report and America’s Artist Super City provide rich content to fuel that narrative.
What we hope to do for the remainder of our time together this morning is to discuss this case. We just heard about the creative economy in LA. Should we be focusing on these economic arguments? Or, should we focus more attention on the intrinsic value of art or the community-building impact that arts can have? We hope to give you a chance to weigh-in on this when we open up the discussion to questions, so let’s get started with our distinguished speakers and panelists.