Creative industries still struggling, far from recovery

I doubt it will come as a surprise to anyone reading this blog that the creative sector was hit significantly harder by the pandemic than other industries in Ohio. The news is based on the results of an economic contribution analysis recently commissioned by Ohio Citizens for the Arts (OCA) with regional arts partners across the state, including the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

The in-depth study, released April 12, looked at the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the creative industries compared to other industries in the state. The study was conducted by Bowling Green State University’s Center for Regional Development and compared data from 2019 to 2020.

Tom Katzenmeyer, CEO, president of the Arts Council

I was not surprised that creative industries were disproportionately affected—much of what we do requires live engagement, which at points dropped to zero in the last two years. It was still incredibly sobering to see the full extent of the impact. View the central Ohio infographic for the impact on all measures.

In 2019 creative industries in Ohio supported more than 329,000 employees, $18 billion in payroll, and $55 billion in economic output for the state. The data from 2020 shows a decline in creative industry employment of 41,000 jobs and a decline in economic output of more than $8.6 billion. On all indicators the decreases felt by the creative industries were significantly more severe when compared to other industries. While the Columbus MSA (metropolitan statistical area) fared a little better than other regions, creative industries suffered more, and will take longer to recover. You can review further statewide findings on OCA’s news page.

They also will need continuing assistance from federal and state levels. Any industry hit this hard by a natural disaster needs the investment of the public sector to rebuild. The pandemic was like a viral tornado that flattened our industry. There are federal and state recovery dollars still unallocated to assist industries and I’d like to call upon the Ohio Legislature to support the creative industries in their recovery.

Creative industries are a critical part of the economic ecosystem in our state and when we suffer so does Ohio’s overall economy. Like any industry, creative industries have economic ripple effects, particularly in the communities they serve. They patronize local businesses for goods and services—everything from graphic design to office supplies. They pay fees and taxes and the people they employ also pay taxes and patronize local business for services and goods. When these creative businesses go dark, or out of business, the economic benefits they generate for their communities also disappears.  

In order to have true recovery in our industry we need to recognize the contributions the creative sector makes and the disparity in the impact the pandemic had on our sector. While we need to lift up all industries, I believe we should focus on those which are disproportionately affected. The creative sector has requested an additional $50 million in recovery dollars from the Ohio Legislature. Please join me in adding your voice by writing your legislators and the Governor to support this investment.

Using remaining pandemic recovery funds now to assist Ohio creative industries just makes good economic sense.

—Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.