Study finds self-employed Creative Occupations drive Indiana's Creative Economy

IAC-Press Release

March 27, 2017


Rex Van Zant

Director of Marketing and Communications


Study finds self-employed Creative Occupations drive Indiana's Creative Economy

(Indianapolis, Indiana) The Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) announced today the release of the complete, first statewide research review of Indiana’s Creative Economy and Employment Impact. One month after the release of the study’s executive summary, the detailed report breaks down the statewide research to match the 11 IAC service regions.

As revealed in the report’s executive summary, nearly 161,000 Hoosiers are employed in Indiana’s Creative Economy.

“For the purpose of comparison, this number represents more people than the population of Indiana’s third largest city,” said Lewis C. Ricci, IAC Executive Director.

During the 2016 research period, Creative Occupation jobs with Creative Industry employers totaled 36,150. Creative Occupations with non-Creative Industry employers totaled 54,333, while “other” jobs with Creative Industry employers totaled 70,138.

“While Indiana did experience growth in its Creative Economy since the Great Recession, generally speaking the state lags behind the national average in growth and per capita employment in Creative Industries and Occupations,” Ricci stated. “That said, Indiana is very close to the nation in some segments of Creative Industries and Employment, such as commercial printing.”

One of the surprising findings of the research was the large percentage of Creative Economy workers who were self-employed. Fifty-seven percent of the Creative Occupation jobs surveyed were self-employed. This compares with a national average of just 20 percent.

“Indiana’s strong self-employed Creative Economy workers may largely exist due to fewer opportunities to work in payroll positions with Creative Industry employers,” Ricci observed. “The difference between national and state self-employment wages aren’t as drastic as the differences in salary for payroll jobs. However, Indiana’s lower cost of living compared with other states could make it an ideal location for self-employed emerging artists and other creative entrepreneurs.”

Not surprisingly, the research revealed that central Indiana and surrounding towns of Columbus, Nashville, and Bloomington make up the hub of Indiana’s creative activity. The research raises questions about the influence of cultural factors on creative opportunities outside the central region of the state.

“Declining population, higher unemployment, and lower-paying Creative Economy jobs may well be factors working against creative development in our more rural areas,” Ricci said.

Another significant aspect of the Creative Economy review is that previous national research into creative industries has not captured many self-employed creative individuals, and those working in creative jobs in other industries.

The economic and employment impact study was conducted by researchers from Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne, and evolved from a regional study commissioned by Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne. Arts United is the IAC’s Regional Arts Partner in northeast Indiana. Additional collaboration on the project was provided by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute.

A copy of the full Creative Economy report can be found at

The Indiana Arts Commission is dedicated to the vision of the arts everywhere, every day, for everyone in Indiana.