There are thousands of us in Minneapolis. Some work in studios in converted industrial buildings. Some work in back bedrooms in their homes. Some work in downtown offices. Some write. Some create fine art. Others perform. We’re “creatives,” and we’re a sizable economic engine.
So says the 2018 Minneapolis Creative Index, published by the Minneapolis Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (ACCE). It’s the third year the study has been conducted and it includes craft artists as well as advertising managers and much in between. The study looked at facts and figures collected in 2016.
Study managers admit they have probably undercounted the number of creatives working in Minneapolis, but they feel pretty confident in stating that more than 22,000 people make their living (or part of it) through creative endeavors. Creatives put $5 billion into the local economy every year – nine times more than what the Minnesota Twins, Vikings and Timberwolves, combined, kick in. Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations had total revenues of $346 million.
Creatives also are also credited with improving neighborhood economies: “Creative enterprise draws people to neighborhoods, producing customers for nearby businesses such as restaurants and shops, and as their work transforms physical spaces in neighborhoods, real property values and tax revenues improve,” the report states.
The top moneymakers
Advertising and public relations make up 24 percent of creative industry sales, followed by publishing and design services. These businesses are somewhat interdependent. The Northeaster falls into the media production and distribution category, which makes up 12 percent of the creative economy. Art galleries, dealers and independent artists contribute about 5 percent of the total.
Not surprisingly, the creative folks who make the most money are involved in advertising. Minneapolis is home to more than 100 advertising and public relations agencies. Advertising and promotion managers make a median hourly wage of $54.25, ten times that of a craft artist who brings in about $5.47 per hour. Most creatives average $22.18 per hour.
Women make up 49 percent of the creative workforce, but there’s still a gender gap when it comes to pay. Women earn about 18 percent less than their male counterparts, in creative occupations all across the board. People of color make up just a small portion of the creative workforce: Only 3.6 percent of Minneapolis’ creative population is Asian, Hispanic or black. However, these groups have seen some job growth since 2014.
Where we work
Outside of downtown, where many ad agencies make their home, there are two hubs of creative activity. One is the Longfellow neighborhood in South Minneapolis. The other is Northeast. Although many visual arts workers are concentrated in the Northeast Arts District, other types of creative enterprise are scattered throughout the 13 Northeast neighborhoods.
A land use summary provided by the Creative Index shows that 40 percent of creative workers work in a retail or commercial building, and 36 percent work at home. Authors of the study seemed surprised to learn that only 13 percent of creatives work in a repurposed industrial building. “This finding … raises questions about the purported threat creative enterprise represents to the industrial manufacturers remaining in the city.”
Creative workspace, and how to manage it
While many creatives may not be starving for their art, providing affordable workspace for them is an art in and of itself. Banks and other lending institutions are reluctant to provide business loans because creative building use “does not always translate well into standard building financial statements,” the report says.
Sometimes, creatives try to provide it themselves. In the case of the Minnsky Theater and the Soap Factory, the results have been less than spectacular, with artists way over their heads in debt trying to crowdsource financing.
The Creative Index took a look at creative work spaces and how they’re managed. The study cites Jonathan Query, owner of the Q.arma building at 1224 Quincy Street, as a building owner who does it right. Query’s tenants pay their rent on a graduated scale based on their income, instead of by the square foot.
Debbie Woodward, who manages the Northrup King Building, tries to keep rents low for her tenants, too. She noted in the report that she still has to pay full price for roofing and other building repairs.
A roadmap for economic and business development planning
ACCE notes at the end of the report that creatives are ahead of the curve when it comes to the “gig economy” that many economists see as the future of work for all professions. “Creative workers are at the forefront of this flexible entrepreneurialism trend, and many manage the precarity of contract, freelance and project-based work by holding multiple jobs, experiencing periods of underemployment and integrating a mix of professional, social and recreational experiences into their practice to facilitate strong and necessary network development.”
To get a copy of the Minneapolis Creative Index 2018, call Gulgun Kayim, director of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, at 612-673-2488. You can also view the full report online at http://www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups/public/@citycoordinator/documents/webcontent/wcmsp-216598.pdf.
(Graphic below from the report, page 19)