Santa Fe’s Intel: Arts, Culture and Creativity - June 2, 2011

"Santa Fe’s creative industries generate big money – more than $1 billion each year..."

Santa Fe’s creative industries employ more than 17% of our workforce – 1 of every 6 jobs. That is one of the highest percentages in the world.


Most communities are proud to showcase the 3 to 5% of their workforce in these industries. In our capital city, arts, culture and creative enterprises are the second largest employer after government. London boasts 8.5%, New York City 8.1%, and Bernalillo County (Albuquerque) 6%.


Santa Fe’s creative industries generate big money – more than $1 billion each year. Santa Feans are responsible for nearly 1/3 of the $3 billion in receipts generated annually by arts and culture industries in all of New Mexico (NM Department of Cultural Affairs report).


Creative industries – visual and performing arts, cultural heritage, crafts, culinary arts, design, healing arts, literary arts, broadcast and media, film, digital media, entertainment, architecture and landscape design, and arts and literary education – are all part of Santa Fe’s creative industries. Also included is a slice of tourism that is focused on arts and culture – creative tourism.


What is so important about these industries is that they export products and services outside of Santa Fe and import money into our local economy. That is the very definition of economic base businesses that economic developers and elected officials are constantly trying to entice into their communities.


Creative industries are responsible for attracting nearly 40% of all the capital that flows into Santa Fe from outside. Arts and culture are responsible for 3 of every 5 dollars and 3 of every 5 jobs added to the Santa Fe economy each year. The University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research compiled this data about Santa Fe County’s Arts and Culture Industries.


This is Santa Fe’s Intel.  The economic contributions are roughly the same. The creative industries in Santa Fe are low water users, don’t pollute, and aren’t the beneficiaries of big tax breaks. We don’t need to be enticed. We need to be supported. We need to stop the flow of young, creative talent leaving our community and invest in our future.


Creative entrepreneurs and the creative workforce also provide a terrific return on investment.  For every $1 invested by our local governments in arts and culture programs and infrastructure, $5 is returned in tax revenues.


Passionate people drive our creative economy. Santa Fe Creates is a blog about them, their businesses, and their economic contributions to our community.


Share your success stories with us and your ideas about how our creative community could improve to support you even more.



Kris Swedinis a community activist, writer, and staffs a 21-year-old calico cat.

She is also on the board of Creative Santa Fe, a non-profit organization working to strengthen Santa Fe’s creative economy.