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Entertainment and Creative Arts Businesses Vital to Southern California



Oscar night is widely considered to be Hollywood’s biggest night. It definitely shines a light on the film industry and the Los Angeles area. It also presents a good time to remember how vital the entertainment and creative arts businesses are to Southern California’s economy.

Creative industries reportedly generate $207.8 billion a year in Los Angeles County, or an estimated 23 percent of the total economic pie. It also is responsible for about 20 percent of the area’s employment and more than 15 percent statewide. Additionally, 64 percent of the credit employment in L.A. County is in the entertainment and digital media area, which is attributable to the film industry. The data comes from 2017 and was published in the 2019 Otis Report on the Creative Economy. It was released this month by the Otis College of Art and Design, which developed the study in partnership with Beacon Economics.

Film and television production often get the most attention. However, the Otis report incorporates five creative economy sectors. They are architecture and related services, entertainment and digital media, fashion, creative goods and products, as well as fine arts and performing arts.

Job and Wage Data

The report has some significant findings besides overall economic impact and employment. They include:

  • Women in creative fields still earn 77 cents to the dollar. That is despite the fact that wages for females in the creative industries rose 40 percent on average over the past 11 years. During that period, male wages only grew 23 percent.
  • Overall, women make up about 40 percent of the creative work force, but it varies by sector. For example, females are 51 percent of employees in fine arts and performing arts, but only 37 percent in entertainment and digital media.
  • There is a consistent rivalry between the creative industries in Los Angeles and New York City. However, considering museums, Broadway and live theatre, the fashion industry, TV and film, and more, employment in the creative industries in L.A. County in 10 percent higher than employment in similar fields in NYC. The L.A. fashion sector employs 24 percent more workers than its East Coast peer. However, fashion is the one area where job counts declined in the last decade.
  • There was a significant increase (about 32 percent) in employment in Architecture and Related Services and Fine Arts and Performing Arts. This demonstrates the growth of Southern California in arts and design.

Broader impact

Jobs in the creative industries generate jobs in other ones. The report estimated that the L.A. area creative industries support 864,958 jobs, of which 450,013 are indirectly a result of the area’s creative work. Those include things like retail, hotels, food service, construction, and transportation.

The Otis report is not the only one to look at the economic impact of arts and creative enterprises in the area. The Getty Foundation sponsored Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a panoply of Latin American and Latino art at over 70 museums and galleries participating from Fall 2017 to January 2018.

The J. Paul Getty Trust, Institute for Applied Economics and Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation reported last May that the four-month program generated an estimated $430.8 million in economic output in Southern California. It supported 4,080 jobs, three-fourths of which were not in arts or entertainment. In L.A. County, there were 3,520 jobs supported, with a similar ratio.

Stars leaving the Academy Awards ceremony and hitting the after-parties around town are supporting other industries. So, besides celebrating the fact the top four Academy Awards went to winners from four different pictures, it is time to celebrate how vital entertainment and the creative arts are to Southern California.

By Dyanne Weiss

2019 Otis Report on the Creative Economy
Economic Impact Analysis Report for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Hollywood Reporter: L.A.’s Creative Industries See Economic Growth, Research Finds

Photo of The Broad and Disney Hall by Dyanne Weiss

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