New engines of growth: five roles for arts, culture, and design

Information technology Design United States of America

With concerns over job creation and business growth holding a prominent—and persistent—position on policy agendas today, governors are increasingly calling on state agencies to support economic growth. It’s not just economic and workforce development agencies that governors want on the case. Some governors are including state arts agencies in this all-hands-on-deck approach and are putting in place policies and programs using arts, culture, and design as a means to enhance economic growth.


This report focuses on the role that arts, culture, and design can play in assisting states as they seek to create jobs and boost their economies in the short run and transition to an innovation- based economy in the long run.

In particular, arts, culture, and design can assist states with economic growth because they can:

1. Provide a fast-growth, dynamic industry cluster;

2. Help mature industries become more competitive;

3. Provide the critical ingredients for innovative places;

4. Catalyze community revitalization; and

5. Deliver a better-prepared workforce.

Globalization and the changing economy have affected individual states differently, but all are searching for ways to support high-growth industries, accelerate innovation, foster entrepreneurial activity, address unemployment, build human capital, and revive distressed areas. Using the five roles as a framework, state leaders—governors, economic development officials, and state arts agencies—have a way to intentionally and strategically make arts, culture, and design an important part of an economic growth agenda. States have already undertaken initiatives that are highly relevant to that agenda. Grouping them by the five roles listed above, this report explores some of their most promising efforts.

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