Houston is known for many things -- the Texas Medical Center, its international population and the worst baseball team that has ever played on a major-league diamond -- but is this place a friendly one for creative professionals such as musicians, writers, architects and graphic designers?
According to The Creative Economy of Houston: A Comprehensive Study of Creative-Sector Industries and Their Impact on the Houston Economy, there are more folks employed in Houston's creative economy than at the Texas Medical Center.
Commissioned by the Houston Arts Alliance and the University of Houston, the study compared the number of creative-sector jobs in Houston versus Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia and Dallas. In 2011, 146,625 creative-job holders pumped $9.1 billion into the Houston-metro economy. (Photographers held down the top "creative job" spot.)
The study also found that Houston experienced an 8 percent growth in its creative economy from 2001 to 2011. Only one other city measured in the study -- Dallas, which expanded its creative workforce by just 1 percent -- grew its creative population in the past decade.
"We knew we were an international destination, but the overall creative economy and its impact is much larger," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker during a study-unveiling press conference on Tuesday.
Some fine print wasn't announced during the media shindig: Houston's creative community is still modest, ranking dead last amongst the six cities that were considered.
That didn't stop the presenters (Houston Arts Alliance CEO Jonathon Glus, UH Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. John Antel) from tooting Houston's horn in the fourth-floor meeting room of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
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Predictably, the presentation's backing beat was the recent Forbes announcement that anointed Houston as the top dog in the cool department. The rah-rah nature got really old really fast, though Parker did put the cool-city list in perspective. "Forbes?" joked Parker. "Coolest?"
But who could blame folks for getting pumped? In our opinion, it's better to love your city for what it is than to pretend that it's awesome when it's not (Dallas) or live in a place where all there is to do is talk about the weather and be indifferent about everything (Phoenix).
"In Houston, there's no hierarchy that you have to get past. There's a certain fluidity here that attracts the best and the brightest," Mayor Parker told Art Attack following the press conference when asked if there's a collective unconscious that attracts creative types to Houston.
"Houston has made big ideas come to life," added Parker, "and not just the belief but also concrete examples" such as the Houston Ship Channel, NASA and the invention of indoor baseball via the Astrodome.