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Creative Economy

As a key sector, the Creative Economy hasn’t gotten much love over the decades. The very idea of a “creative” still conjures up images of starving artists toiling away in lofts and street corner singer-songwriters hoping a recording mogul passing by will sign them to a lucrative recording contract.

While there may be some starving artists and undiscovered musicians in its midst, the Creative Economy is so much more, encompassing more than 100 creative professions, from sound designers and augmented reality landscape artist to 3D printing technologists and digital animators. Technology has made nearly everything the human mind can think of possible, and the resulting ideas have tremendous monetary value.

In Washington State, the Creative Economy is a hotbed for new ideas that can be prototyped, marketed and turned into ready revenue streams. The beauty of an idea lies in the fact that anyone can have one. The best and brightest rise to the top, and in this day and age, a great idea can hit critical mass within days and weeks rather than months and years.

If your business thrives on new ideas, innovation and invention, Washington State is the place to be. Whether you’re bent on being the next Banksy or want to create a new video game that sets the world on fire (virtually, of course), Washington’s creative sector can offer you a collaborative environment that welcomes new ideas along with the know-how to bring a new idea to life, and to market.

Our Team

Shannon Halberstadt
Creative Economy Sector Lead
Phone: (564) 669-0378

Industry Snapshot

  • The Creative Economy’s contribution to the state’s GDP is 10.3%.
  • Washington’s creative sector is #1 in the nation in share of state GDP. California is a distant second at 7.5%.
  • The sector contributes $119.2 billion to the state’s economy.
  • The Creative Economy employs more than 180,000 workers.
  • The largest sectors are 1) creative technology, 2) architecture and living spaces 3) fashion. 4) culinary arts/beverage and 5) performing arts (music, theater, dance, visual) .
  • The video game industry is the second largest in the U.S with nearly 50,000 in the workforce.
  • There are nearly a dozen Creative District Communities across the state.


Washington’s Creative Economy Sector recognizes creative entrepreneurship as a pathway to exponential economic growth and opportunity.

In contrast to previous economic revolutions – Agricultural, Industrial and Information – the Creative Revolution doesn’t rely on the ownership of expensive machinery, land and transportation. The ownership of ideas, not property, can open new doors while ensuring that economic activities are inclusive, diverse and equitable.

The Creative Economy is focused on creating and improving new products, services and ideas as well as the intellectual property derived from it, which can be sold, resold, traded, and managed as a commodity. Intellectual property can have as much, if not more, value than physical property.

If you’re a writer, you can sell your novel to a publisher but retain the rights to sell it to a movie studio or Broadway production company. The same can be true for intellectual property contained in the larger work. For instance, several years ago Disney trademarked Captain America’s shield, which means the rights to use it can be bought and sold separately from the Captain America character. Every idea, and in this case, a subset, can be monetized, together or individually.

To realize the full potential of the creative economy, the state is dismantling barriers and expanding opportunities for historically underrepresented workers and businesses statewide.

Creative Economy Sector work is focused on five key initiatives:

Support pandemic recovery
Infuse grant funds statewide to stabilize creative businesses and stimulate creative economy post pandemic recovery.

Connect the Creative Economy with other key industries
Create strategies to build the creative workforce, and to provide technical support and financing for small creative businesses and microenterprises.  

Reenergize Washington’s film industry
Support the success of the newly expanded Motion Picture Competitiveness Program.

Connect Washington’s gaming industry
Discover and create networks to grow the industry

Engage in long-range planning for the Creative Economy
With the statewide Creative Economy work group, complete a Strategic Plan to define the sector and establish longrange strategies for sector growth

            About Washington

Supporting the Creative Economy.

In Washington, we want you to make the most of your ideas. They are, after all, unique to you. So why shouldn’t you be able to control their use, determine their value and manage the rights associated with them?

To support creative enterprises looking to call Washington home, the state has created The Creative Academy. Located on the MyStartup365.com website, the academy provides a series of self-directed modules creatives can use to turn their passion into a business. A companion series helps would-be business owners with everything they need to know about Mastering Financials, from profit and loss statements to cash flow projections and tax reporting.

While some states struggle to look over the horizon and predict what comes next, Washington excels at it. New ideas flow like wine here, and the list of transformational products and services reaches back more than 150 years.

As we look to the future, we are seeking new ways to spur innovation and ideation across the state. This includes new workspaces to collaborate in, expanding broadband further into rural communities, increasing access to capital, and connecting those with a great idea to those who can help it become realized, from manufacturers and engineers to marketers and export consultants.

Our work is also focused on skill-building and developing the workforce of the future through career-connected learning, internships and apprenticeships in game design, software, filmmaking, 3D modeling and a host of other creative pursuits.

office hours

M-F: 8am - 5pm


2001 Sixth Ave., Suite 2600, Seattle, WA  98121


(206) 256-6100