In news that won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s got a friend (or is that friend) who moved to Brooklyn to be an artist or a rock star, an actor or an author or a celebrated architectural star, a new study by The Center for an Urban Future found that Brooklyn has seen the biggest spike of creative jobs in the city.
While Manhattan still has the most number of people working in a creative industry, with 242,496 employees in 2013, but that is only a 10% increase from the 220,185 employees a decade earlier. Brooklyn, on the other hand, while fewer total people working in a creative field (30,140) in 2013, has seen a 60% increase, from 2003’s 18,851 employees in creative fields. As far as the city’s other boroughs, Queens has only seen a 10% increase; The Bronx, only three percent and Staten Island, the only borough with less workers, was listed with negative six percent of creative employees from 2003-2013.
The report, which defines the “creative industry” as advertising, film and television, broadcasting, publishing, architecture, design, music, visual arts, performing arts and independent artists, doesn’t come as too much of a surprise for us, because we already know that Brooklyn leads the world in female start-ups and we’ve got a friend who swears they almost opened for Jeff the Brotherhood at Death By Audio this one time.
The report also states that it is more likely for creatives under the age of 30 to be living in Brooklyn, rather than Manhattan, or any of the other outer boroughs. A graph in the report shows that 57% of people working in a creative field are self-employed, the highest in the entire city and that all avenues of creative work have grown in size from 2003-2013.
The report also shows that the number of non-profit cultural organizations have boomed in all boroughs, but it’s Brooklyn that has seen the biggest increase, over a 160% in the decade between 2005 to 2015. Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Carlo Scissura is quoted in the report, stating that the boom in creative businesses “have been crucial to the renaissance Brooklyn has experienced over the past decade,” continuing to say that “collectively, they have been the driving force behind our borough’s economic success.”
Of course, it’s not all gravy. This boom comes with the fact that government spending on institutions such as New York State Council of Arts, have seen a steady decrease in state and federal grants. Also, while creative businesses and opportunities have risen in the past decade and change, so have prices for everything from rent to transportation. Besides actors, every other creative occupation suffers from the wage gap that comes with living in America’s biggest metropolis. Like any report about the Brooklyn economy, this one notes that Brooklyn’s rent is triple the national average. On top of that, diversity is also a problem concerning creative industries, with a a graph shows that 67% of creative employees in the city will be native-born white New Yorkers.
The city should be proud that creative businesses have become one of the fastest rising ventures in the local economy in recent years, however, if they want it to stay that way and not risk creative vacating the city due to cost of living and funding. The study offers recommendations that include affordable housing for artists, funding and support from government agencies, development both in economic terms and with the help of the community, and, just as important as everything else, diversity in the workforce.
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