Helping Our Creative Community Get Stronger

The purpose of the Building Austin's Creative Capacity needs assessment was to examine Austin’s individual creatives and nonprofit arts and cultural organizations support structures necessary to build capacity and financial sustainability. The study, through an on-line survey, community meetings, and focus groups investigated available resources, identified gaps, and made recommendations for the continued growth and development of Austin’s creative capacity.

The objective of this study was to learn more about the challenges and needs of the individuals and arts and cultural organizations of the creative sector so that the City and other service providers can review and continue to develop and fine-tune their offerings to further strengthen Austin's creative community.

On November 4, 2015, a public presentation was given of the survey findings, gap analysis of the offerings provided by nonprofit service providers, and a set of recommendations for strengthening Austin’s creative capacity. Attendees were asked to give feedback to help prioritize the recommendations.
Download the slides from the presentation of findings

The City of Austin and consultants completed the Building Austin’s Creative Capacity: Creative Sector Needs Assessment in early 2016. The following reports comprise the entirety of the Study and can be downloaded here:

Building Austin’s Creative Capacity: Executive Summary. Overview of the project research and key findings and recommendations. March 28, 2016.

Building Austin’s Creative Capacity: Interim Report. Initial topline results of the survey data and a project process update. March 31, 2015.

Building Austin’s Creative Capacity: Gap Analysis Report. Full analysis of survey data. How individual creatives and arts/cultural organizations in Austin access support services, what barriers they encounter in accessing those services, how suitable the available resources are, and what their future needs are expected to be. June 22, 2015.

Building Austin’s Creative Capacity: Conclusions and Recommendations.  Summarizes the research process and the assessment of creative sector service needs, and proposes recommendations together with suggested outcome measures. February 18, 2016.

• Building Austin’s Creative Capacity: Community Focus Group Summary Report. Three community conversations were held with individual minority groups to discuss the survey findings and assess to what extent participants felt the survey accurately reflected their concerns, or whether they face resource and service needs that differ significantly from those mentioned by the survey respondents. February 18, 2016.

 woman and man sitting at table with drawing in between them; People gathered around a table assembling a mosaic; People fitting together cardboard discs; A woman standing at a podium addressing a room.

The Study was facilitated by nationally recognized cultural planners, WolfBrown, with the help from the Building Austin’s Creative Capacity Steering Committee made up of local individual creatives, nonprofit cultural organizations, and nonprofit service providers dedicated to the training of small business and creative sector development.

The Building Austin’s Creative Capacity needs assessment is an action item within the Imagine Austin Creative Economy Priority Program Work Plan to identify additional ongoing strategies to further develop the creative industries. This study, together with the Small Business Programs’ needs assessment of 2014 and the Austin Music Census of 2015, provides a well-rounded assessment of the needs of local creative entrepreneurs. The findings and recommendations also contributed to the staff response to the Music and Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution.

It is noteworthy to reveal that, in the process of developing the Building Austin’s Creative Capacity project, the main inspiration and guide came from the Urban Institute’s 2003 study Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structure for U.S. Artists. In September 2016 the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released their new publication Creativity Connects: Trends and Conditions Affecting U.S. Artists.The purpose of this report is to update the findings of Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structure for U.S. Artists. The NEA saw that, “while the framework outlined in the (2003) report remains useful, it is clear that many aspects of the environment and market for artists’ work have changed profoundly in the past decade, including developments in technologies, public perceptions of creative workers, marketplace opportunities, demographics, and aesthetic practices.”