Arts-related jobs expected to increase

Arts-related professions and businesses may not run Colorado’s economy, but they play a vital role, according to findings from The State of Colorado’s Creative Economy report.

A summary of the report, commissioned by the Colorado Council of the Arts in 2008, was presented Saturday in Grand Junction during the Statewide Arts Education Advisory Network meeting of educators and artists from across the state.

Sheila Sears, art education manager for the Colorado Council on the Arts, and Jennifer Jirous, arts program director with the Colorado Community College System, presented statistics from the report, indicating the importance of arts to Coloradans.

The report found 186,251 jobs in Colorado in 2007 were directly associated with an arts-related company or were jobs that required some arts-related skill such as a video-game producer or architect.

Employment in arts-related companies or businesses was about 4 percent of all the state’s estimated 3.2 million jobs. Since 2002, the number of jobs in creative enterprises increased by 7 percent, and the earnings for employees in arts-related businesses were $5 billion.

The full report is at

Those numbers are “huge,” Sears said. “And they are well-dispersed across the state.”

Colorado ranked fifth among all states for concentration of artists, according to the report. Only New York, California, Massachusetts and Vermont had a higher concentration of creative talent when the study was conducted.

Colorado ranked second in concentration of architects, seventh in concentration of writers, designers, entertainers and performers, and eighth in concentration of photographers compared to other U.S. states.

Arts-related occupations in Colorado are expected to increase, Sears said.

The expected demand for creative, artistic people in Colorado’s job markets puts an emphasis on arts education, Jirous said.

Traditionally, she added, Colorado imports most of its artistic work force. To counter that, Colorado’s schools need to offer more arts education. Parents need to support a child passionate about the arts.

If a child is interested in the arts, he or she should be encouraged to pursue the interest because myriad jobs are available, Jirous said, adding students who love art don’t necessarily need to become professional painters or pianists.

“What are we doing to prepare students?” Jirous asked the nearly three-dozen artists, educators and parents present at Saturday’s presentation.

“Show kids what they are learning matters. Art education is important and can be a career.”

Art is offered in all School District 51 high schools and middle schools.

However, the district has only two certified arts teachers for its more than two dozen elementary schools, said Connie Robbins-Brady, district visual arts coordinator.

That is not good enough, she added.

Jirous and Sears said work is being done with legislators, school districts and colleges to address the importance of art education because of the financial ramifications for the economy.

Creativity is integral to innovation, and art education is essential to developing creativity, Jirous said.


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