Friday, November 05, 2010

Durham’s Creative Vitality 26% Higher Than National Average!

Durham’s newest benchmark is a creative vitality index presented recently to community leaders by the Durham Arts Council and the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau. Reflecting the relative economic health of the creative economy, the index is conducted by CVI, a research service of WESTAF and it measures seven sources of arts-related participation and employment .Creative Vitality Index

Durham’s creative economy in this context is 26% above the national average as of 2008. Durham ranks higher than its surrounding metro area and higher than the nearby Raleigh-Cary metro area which ranks just below or above the national average over the past three years. Information posted on CVI's website reveals that Durham's index is roughly twice that of the state of North Carolina as a whole.

Durham would have ranked even higher had the index been able to include university related arts. For instance, Durham’s rank below average for performing arts participation would have been much higher had it been able to include significant participation at theaters on Duke and NCCU campuses and will certainly be boosted in subsequent measures by the relatively new DPAC, the Durham Performing Arts Center.

As with any performance measure, the Index also highlights areas for improvement.

DCVB’s involvement in the index makes sense not only because the Bureau is good as creating presentations but because it arguably has more experience on performance measures than any entity in Durham. There is another reason. Visitors generate 70% of the attendance at Durham arts events including festivals, performing arts, galleries etc.

The creative vitality index was presented under the auspices of the Business Committee for the Arts, a division of Americans for the Arts (AFTA.) AFTA also recently created a tool kit in partnership with Destination Marketing Association International (the umbrella organization for community marketing organizations like DCVB.) A key part of the tool kit is performance measures and as chairman of the joint task force that established it, I’m pleased to see Durham setting an example.

Durham’s Business Committee for the Arts is a partnership of DAC, DCVB, AFTA, the Chamber, the City office of economic and workforce development and the joint City and County Durham Cultural Advisory Board chaired by Michael Schoenfeld, VP Public Affairs and Government Relations for Duke University.

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