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Buncombe County’s creative economy bounces back

Job growth and industry sales have reached their highest levels since before the pandemic.

Rabbit Rabbit music venue

Asheville’s music scene plays a key role in the creative economy.

Photo by Tom Farr courtesy of Rabbit Rabbit

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Good news for the many creatives who call Asheville home. A report from ArtsAVL shows that Buncombe County’s creative economy is bouncing back stronger than ever after four years of diminished growth.

Need a refresher? Here’s your crash course on Asheville’s most aesthetic industry.

Let’s take it back to 2019

In 2019, there were 13,560 jobs in Asheville’s creative industry, a 24% increase since 2015. And, by 2019, creative industry sales reached $1.6 billion, a 44% growth since 2015.

But Asheville’s creative economy took a hit in 2020 when industry jobs decreased by 16% due to the pandemic. This downturn was caused by temporary closures and steep declines in revenue that forced layoffs throughout the industry.

The current creative economy

Things are on the up and up. ArtsAVL reporting shows that jobs and sales for creative industries have now passed 2019 totals, with 14,000 jobs in May 2023. Motion pictures and video production leads the pack in job growth with 10 new film projects produced in the Asheville area.

Sales were slower to increase than jobs as concern of large gatherings lingered throughout the pandemic. But 2022 reporting shows that sales have skyrocketed to $2.1 billion, surpassing pre-pandemic totals. Breweries spearhead the dramatic increase in creative industry sales seen from 2021-2022, bringing in $579 million. Following is historical sites, raking in $260 million.

Eager to learn even more about Buncombe County’s creative economy? Dive into ArtsAVL’s comprehensive reports, which track the impact of creative manufacturing, outdoor events, and the nonprofit arts sectors.

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