City of New Orleans releases Cultural Economy Snapshot

Arts Council New Orleans

By Alison E. Gavrell, Cultural Economy Project Manager at City of New Orleans 

The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy’s mission is to enable growth for cultural economy stakeholders and the public throughout the many facets of New Orleans’ cultural economy. One way to enable growth is to gauge the current state through the annual New Orleans Cultural Economy Snapshot. The 2010 New Orleans Cultural Economy Snapshot was published in 2011 was a first attempt at providing cultural economy data for New Orleans. The report put numbers to what New Orleanians instinctively know: that New Orleans is a center for the intersection of creativity and commerce.

The Office of Cultural Economy used this data to leverage improvements across City projects and priorities. The results include the creation of accessible guides and resources for cultural businesses for zoning, licensing, and special events as well as guides for vendors like food trucks and artists. The Office was also instrumental in reforming the Special Event Permit process due to the concerns of event organizers in the community. One of the more innovative creations was the Cultural Economy Planning Map, a tool to help residents, business owners, city planners, and developers integrate existing or planned cultural assets and infrastructure into the planning process

Five years and four Snapshots later, the cultural economy is still strong. Cultural jobs have increased 15% from 2002-2014, and New Orleans had the highest increase in those jobs between 2006 and 2014 compared to San Francisco, Austin, and New York. Festivals have played a large role in the cultural economy since 2005. Of the 129 festivals and markets tracked in the Snapshot since 2010, half were established post-Katrina and attendance at events has risen from 3.2 million in 2010 to 4 million in 2014. Estimated economic impact of festivals has doubled, from $482 million in 2009 to $961 million in 2014. More importantly, the proliferation of small to large events and everything in-between has provided cultural entrepreneurs with many venues to sell their goods or perform to a local and national audience.

Click here to read the full 2014 New Orleans Cultural Economy Snapshot.