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Kelowna’s creative sector generates $37.8 million in wages annually and has an annual economic impact of $143.8 million. Those are just two of the key findings in a new economic impact study led by Bernard Momer, associate professor of geography at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

The Creative Sector in Kelowna, British Columbia: An Economic Impact Assessment follows up on a 1998 assessment of the contribution of arts and culture to the economy of the wider Central Okanagan region.

“As it was in 1998, Kelowna’s creative sector is an important contributor to the local economy,” says Momer. “This impact assessment demonstrates that the creative sector’s economic contribution to our community is significant and, by extension, that it enriches our social and cultural capital.”

The new assessment — which began in early 2009 and included a survey of creative sector businesses, individuals and organizations — was completed in February, and was presented Wednesday morning at Art at Work: Kelowna’s Creative Economy, a business breakfast panel discussion at the Coast Capri Hotel, hosted by the City of Kelowna’s Cultural Services Branch.

“Arts and cultural activity in Kelowna is a major part of our community and our local economy,” says Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd. “This assessment has confirmed just how important the creative sector is for our city and our region. It can help shape our community’s response to the needs of this sector, helping it flourish and continue to contribute to our quality of life in so many ways.”

The creative sector — a $4-billion industry in B.C. employing some 85,000 people — includes all self-employed individuals, profit, non-profit and public enterprises including incorporated and unincorporated businesses that produce, create, distribute or conserve cultural and artistic goods and services. The study looks at creative sector employment, wages, gross domestic product (GDP), and other economic impacts. Momer and his research team found:

There are 1,199 direct jobs in the creative sector — this represents 870 full-time equivalent jobs, generating an economic output of $76.9 million.

– The creative sector’s 287 indirect jobs produce an economic output of $44.6 million.
– This sector supports 180 induced jobs, producing another $22.3 million in economic output.
– With 7.3 direct full-time equivalent workers per 1,000 inhabitants, Kelowna has almost twice as many creative sector workers per capita than the 4.0 workers per 1,000 inhabitants in Richmond, B.C, which conducted an arts and culture economic impact assessment in 2008. The cultural sector generates $338 per inhabitant in Kelowna compared to $200 in Richmond.

Momer points out that several other less tangible but still very important values are not part of the study:

– Option value — how the availability of arts and culture benefit those who don’t directly participate in cultural activities
– Bequest value to future generations
– Prestige value that arts and culture add to the community’s sense of place
– Educational value that helps foster local creativity.

“With this in mind and the present economic impact assessment in hand, the community should turn its attention to estimating the costs of not insuring the health of our cultural sector,” says Momer.

“Hopefully this report will serve to generate attention to the creative sector and its contribution to the community, as well as a stepping stone for further research exploring the tangible and intangible value of the creative sector in Kelowna.”

Full article here.

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