The Role of the Creative Economy in New Hampshire

a. Defining the Creative Economy

There are numerous labels and definitions related to the creative economy. In New Hampshire, many communities have taken steps to identify the role the creative economy plays in economic development through plans, surveys and community forums. One thing is clear – what New Hampshire communities value is best determined by the communities themselves.

•    Creative Concord defines the creative economy as “…consisting of a cultural core that includes occupations and industries, both for profit and not for profit, that focus on the production and distribution of cultural goods and services, as well as intellectual property that has a cultural component.

•    The National Endowment for the Arts has produced a short video discussing a definition of the creative economy.

Creative Industry•    The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) uses the description, “The creative economy is a powerful and positive global force. Together, artists, cultural nonprofits, and creative businesses produce and distribute cultural goods and services that impact the economy by generating jobs, revenue, and quality of life.” NEFA’s complete report, “The Creative Economy: A New Definition” and related research is on NEFA’s website.

b. Creative Industries in New Hampshire (Americans for the Arts Report, PDF)

As of January 2012, New Hampshire is home to 4,618 arts-related businesses that employ 13,111 people. They employ a creative workforce, spend money locally, generate government revenue, and are a cornerstone of tourism and economic development.


New Hampshire’s Creative Industries




Arts Schools and Services

160 businesses, 676 employees


Agents, Arts Councils, Arts Schools



Design and Publishing

1,564 businesses, 3,661 employees


Advertising, Architecture, Design, Publishing



Film, Radio and TV

485 businesses, 2,471 employees


Radio, Television, Motion Pictures



Museums and Collections

151 businesses, 788 employees


Zoos, Botanical Gardens, Planetarium,

Historical Society, Art, Cultural and Children’s Museums


Visual Arts/Photography

1,614 businesses, 3,621 employees


Photography, Visual/Graphic Arts 



Performing Arts

644 businesses, 1,894 employees


Music, Theater, Opera, Dance and Venues

How Do You Define the Creative Economy?

Creative industry professionals, economic and community developers, government officials, and arts supporters have different ways of looking at the value of the creative economy. Telling the story of the creative economy’s impact on job growth, tourism through local spending, and community quality of life is important. Collecting data to measure creative economy impacts is essential to gain a complete understanding of the true economic and social benefits of creative enterprises.

Organizations specializing in creative economy data collection, such as Americans for the Arts and New England Foundation for the Arts, measure both non-profit and for profit creative services. Methods for measuring the economic impact of individual artists, for profit creative industries, and non-profit organizations are still evolving. Defining the creative economy requires careful consideration of all the creative industry categories at work in a community. 

c. How the Creative Economy Works

Three vital components comprise the creative economy: 1) the creators of the work who may or may not be professionals, 2) the consumers who make the choice to attend the theater, film or a concert, purchase locally produced literature, art or crafts, contract with photographers, architects and designers for services or visit a museum or cultural exhibit, and 3) the supporters who help advance the development of creative industries by establishing cultural councils and percent for art ordinances, hiring artists in residence and speaking in support of the arts to policy makers.


d. Models of Affordable Live-Work Spaces for Artists

Throughout New Hampshire, businesses, non-profits and communities are developing creative spaces to support artists and arts and cultural organizations. Among them:

Great Mills Management (Seacoast area)
Langer Place (Manchester)
Salmons Falls Mills (Rollinsford)
The Button Factory (Portsmouth)
AVA Gallery and Arts Center (Lebanon)
Riverview Mills (Wilton)
Mennino Place (Concord)

e. New Hampshire’s Creative Economy: Non-Profit Sector Impact (NEFA Report PDF)

New Hampshire non-profit arts and cultural enterprises constitute a major industry for the state. In 2009, the spending of 1,588 arts and cultural organizations amounted to over $139 million, and provided jobs for over 2,600 people. This data represents a conservative estimate, because for profit creative industries and independent creative professionals were not included in the report.


CASE STUDY: Monadnock Region
Arts and Economic Prosperity III Report

Arts Alive!, a Keene-based non-profit that works to sustain, promote, and expand access to arts and cultural resources in the Monadnock region, and Americans for the Arts conducted an 11 month study to quantify the broad economic impact of arts and cultural activities in the Monadnock region. The Arts and Economic Prosperity III study provides compelling new evidence that the nonprofit arts and culture are a $16.6 million industry in the Monadnock Region—one that supports 477 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $1.3 million in local and state government revenue.