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Creative Occupations

Western North Carolina’s “creative economy” encompasses a diverse array of occupations, including photographers, writers and authors, musicians and singers, fine artists, designers, actors, architects and landscape architects, librarians, and public relations professionals. In 2011, total jobs in this sector were 14,233.

A breakdown of the region’s creative sector jobs is shown in the accompanying table. Some creative occupations are better represented in Western North Carolina than statewide or nationally on a per capita basis. This is particularly true of landscape architects, commercial and industrial designers, set and exhibit designers, music directors and composers, and craft artisans (compared to state averages). Data are drawn from the Creative Vitality Index (CVI) diagnostic tool, which identifies standard creative occupations. Because the data are compiled from national labor statistics that rely on self-reporting, it is likely that the number of creative occupations is undercounted.

Location Quotient (LQ) is an index value for each occupation, measuring whether or not there is a per capita concentration of an occupation within the area being measured. In the accompanying table, the CVI scores of Western North Carolina are compared with state and national averages, which are each set to a benchmark index score of 1.00. For example, compared to the state average, the LQ score for Writers and Authors in Western North Carolina is 1.17, meaning that the number of writers and authors in Western North Carolina is 17% higher than in the state as a whole (on a per capita basis).

Creative Occupations in Western North Carolina*, 2011

Occupation TypeJobsLQ (compared to state)LQ (compared to nation)
Musicians and Singers1,7681.221.03
Writers and Authors1,3271.170.92
Graphic Designers1,1220.950.81
Art Directors6461.210.92
Music Directors and Composers5901.191.21
Multi-Media Artists and Animators5741.090.88
Directors, Religious Activities5681.101.38
Public Relations Specialists5590.760.51
Architects, Except Landscape and Naval4260.930.72
Floral Designers3621.211.12
Interior Designers2851.050.96
Radio and Television Announcers2680.980.88
Producers and Directors2230.940.54
Commercial and Industrial Designers2151.451.10
Fine Artists including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators2041.190.94
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes1951.120.87
Media and Communication Workers, All Other1740.960.74
Landscape Architects1431.561.35
Advertising and Promotion Managers1240.980.61
Audio and Video Equipment Technicians1230.840.52
Public Relations Managers1150.630.50
Broadcast Technicians1080.930.77
Set and Exhibit Designers851.271.37
Fashion Designers651.090.60
Film and Video Editors550.820.57
Technical Writers510.370.28
Camera Operators, Television, Video, and Motion Picture490.730.45
Sound Engineering Technicians330.900.45
Musical Instrument Repairers and Tuners300.990.85
Media and Communication Equipment Workers, All Other280.600.37
Craft Artisans **4531.32not available

Source: Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. Complete Employment

* Data are available for 23 counties: Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey.

** Craft Artisans are not included in the CVI’s standard set of creative occupations.


WESTAF. 2011. Creative Vitality Index. Courtesy of North Carolina Arts Council. Accessed from: