Creative State Michigan : 2016 Creative Industries Report by Kerr, et al.

Creative State MIchigan report cover

Are the creative industries in Michigan thriving & innovative?

How do these industry stakeholders envision their futures?

What external pressures may impact the futures of Michigan’s creative economy?

These are some of the key questions that guided the year-long research project for Creative Many Michigan just completed by KerrSmith, co-led by OCAD professor and sLab researcher, Helen Kerr, together with a team including SFI-sLab alumni, Zan Chandler and Kelly Kornet.

The statewide organization, dedicated to developing creative people, creative places and the creative economy for a competitive Michigan, received funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to work with KerrSmith to update and expand on their 2014 Creative State Michigan research.

The Pivotal Role that Creative Industries Play
Recognizing the pivotal role that creative industries play within the broader economy, this comprehensive investigation and analysis of employment and wage data focused on 12 creative industries over the period of 2011 to 2014. They included: Advertising; Architecture; Art Schools, Artists and Agents; Creative Technology; Culture and Heritage; Design; Fashion, Garment and Textile; Film, Audiovisual and Broadcasting; Literary, Publishing and Print; Music; Performing Arts; and Visual Arts and Craft. The report also includes profiles of the creative industries in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Flint.

Anticipating the Future
In addition to conducting a comprehensive investigation and analysis of employment and wage data for 12 creative industries over the period of 2011 to 2014, KerrSmith made use of multiple foresight research methods in order to uncover the emerging issues that will have an impact on the employment landscape globally, within the U.S. and across the state.

We identified 5 important shifts taking place and their implications for the creative industries in Michigan.

  • The Nature of Work is Changing. Stable, full-time employment is no longer the only viable model for work.
  • Automation and Digitization. Digital information and computational power have led to automation in many work spheres, including “white collar” domains.
  • Seeking Meaningful Work. Many workers, especially younger ones, believe that a company’s mission is as important as its fiscal mandate.
  • Diversity and Inclusion. These key drivers of innovation and prosperity also support thriving creative economies
  • Transferable Competencies. Future-ready work skills such as sensemaking, experimentation, and adaptive thinking mirror many of the inherent competencies of those in the creative occupations.

The 160-page report, researched, written and designed by KerrSmith (including extensive information graphics), aims to establish the value and significance of the creative economy of Michigan both now and into the future. We put forth a series of recommendations to bolster Creative Many’s mission to develop the creative economy for a competitive Michigan. They include acknowledging the foundational importance of art, culture, design and creativity in creating the preconditions for prosperity, resilience and social cohesion in Michigan; building a healthy and vibrant art, culture, design and creative ecosystem throughout Michigan; and deploying art, culture, design and creativity in re-imagining the future of Michigan.

This ambitious research project was also supported by the Kresge Foundation, Masco Corporation Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Ford Foundation, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Detroit Creative Corridor Center and Prima Civitas.

A PDF of the full report can be downloaded from the Creative Many website at:

Community members: