Making a better future for the next generation in North Carolina.

Can Our Kids Succeed In the Creative Economy of the 2040s?

Dec 14, 2022 | Arts, Creative, Economy, Education | 0 comments

We hear a lot about our schools failing to help kids achieve proficiency in math and reading — and rightly so. Those are foundational skills for today’s kids to continue their education and have successful careers when they’re adults in the 2040s. Without minimizing the need to improve learning on these basic skills, though, a forward-looking education system should provide opportunities for kids to develop their creative skills through a strong program of arts education.

Why is education in the arts important? A survey of research on the direct impact of arts education found evidence that it improves students’ abilities to

  • Critique themselves,
  • Experiment,
  • Learn from mistakes,
  • Manage behavior,
  • Maintain a positive self-concept,
  • Maintain self-efficacy,
  • Maintain school engagement,
  • Have tolerance for others’ perspectives, and
  • Orient themselves towards academic goals, including college attendance and college graduation.

Economic Impact

Beyond benefits to individual students, encouraging creative development through arts education can benefit our states. To use a poker analogy, getting students’ basic skills down is like the ante you make to get into the game. In today’s economy, winning the big pots depends on making bets with creativity. It’s creative bets that lead to wins like new tech companies, blockbuster movies, platinum albums, global franchises, and even winning political campaigns.

These big wins are supplemented by the everyday wins of the arts and cultural sector in the U.S — estimated at $877 billion, or 4.2% of gross domestic product in 2020 by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. If our arts and cultural sector were a nation by itself, it would rank 20th among the 216 nations in the world in economic production. It’s big and growing at a much faster clip than the overall economy.

So, how is North Carolina faring in this creative sector? Ho hum. It only accounts for 2.8% of North Carolina’s economy according to the BEA. Compare that to California’s creative sector that produces 7.5% of its economic output, New York’s at 7.3%, and the State of Washington at 10.3%.

Giving our kids access to the creative jobs of the future

If we wanted our kids to share in the big wins that come from creative innovation, we would invest in making quality arts programs available for them in all of our schools. Most of their time in school is spent learning facts and skills. It is only in the creative arts — I would include creative writing — that they have the challenge and experience of making something entirely new for the world.

So, let’s continue to work on basic skills – it’s not right that less than half our students are judged “not proficient” on reading and math – but let’s not lose sight of the big wins that come from preparing them for the burgeoning creative economy of the future. Don’t make our creative kids move to New York or California to find success in the 2040s.

Your turn

Join Arts North Carolina

“Uniting people and communities to strengthen and celebrate a creative North Carolina. Arts NC’s primary function is to provide advocacy training, organization, strategy, and events that create a dynamic, united, and powerful grassroots voice for the arts in North Carolina.”



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