Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CVI Study: Arts are a growth industry in Wyoming

Press release from today's release of the Wyoming Creative Vitality Index:

While most indicators point to mineral extraction, tourism and agriculture as the state’s leading industries, Wyoming’s arts community is a driving force in the state’s economy and compares favorably with its neighbors in the Rocky Mountain West and nationally, according to a Creative Vitality Index Report released recently by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF). The complete CVI report is available on-line at

Governor Dave Freudenthal, First Lady Nancy Freudenthal and members of the Wyoming Arts Council released the findings of the CVI during a press conference at the governors’ residence today.

The Creative Vitality Index is an annual measure of the economic health of an area’s creative economy through year-to-year and geographical comparisons based on data from a selection of creative occupations and arts organization income figures. Information for the CVI is collected through a variety of agencies including the IRS, Department of Labor and state, local and regional organizations.

'We have for some time made the argument both to private benefactors and public funding decision makers that the arts are an important and growing part of the Wyoming economy,” Governor Dave Freudenthal said. “This is the first time that we have hard data talking about several hundred million dollars of retail sales of non-profit revenue annually in the state.”

Prepared by WESTAF for 2006 through 2008, Wyoming’s Creative Vitality Index is measured at 1.04, compared to a national average of 1.00. Also, Wyoming “outperforms the nation on a per capita basis within three of the eight CVI categories. Wyoming performed best in the following CVI categories: individual artists, writers and performers, as well as performing arts participation.”

Additionally, Wyoming ranks above the national average in choreographers (3.52), photographers (1.18), visual artists (1.15) and writers (1.12).

Regionally, Wyoming’s CVI ranks second only to Colorado (1.10) in a comparison of the states’ creative economies, and is in the upper half of all states, according to the CVI study.

However, in a comparison of Wyoming’s creative economy with the six other Mountain States – Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Utah – Wyoming’s CVI balloons to 1.34, meaning the Cowboy State posts an index 34 percent higher than the average of its neighbors. Additionally, Wyoming’s strength within the region continues to grow increasing from 1.15 in 2007 to 1.34 in 2008.

What this means in terms of economic impact is that Wyoming artists provide a higher percentage of sales than their counterparts in the rest of the country. For instance, the revenue generated from art galleries is $31.79 per capita or 123 percent ahead of the national average. Also, revenue generated by individual artists is 28 percent ahead of the national average.

While Wyoming’s CVI is buoyed by extremely active cultural activity in the northwest part of the state – Jackson posts an astonishing 7.96 CVI, nearly eight times the national average, with Cody at 2.80 – many other counties post index figures above or near the national average. Weston County is measured at 1.71, with Johnson County at 1.03, Sheridan .93, Natrona .89, Laramie .77, Sublette .76 and Albany, .73.

Seventeen of Wyoming’s counties have shown increases in CVI scores from 2006 through 2008, and creative sector jobs in Campbell County rose from 254 to 314 an astonishing 23% increase during that same time frame.

The CVI study shows that the arts are a growth industry in Wyoming which contributes greatly to the state’s economy.

Though Wyoming is not commonly thought of as a “center of culture,” this information proves that Wyoming is a much bigger arts state than anyone realized, and a real beacon of arts activity in the Mountain West.