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Valuing the 21st Century Creative Economy

Opening Plenary
Creative Economy: What is it and Why does it matter?
Christine Harris

Download the PowerPoint or PDF Slides from Christine's Talk.

Christine Harris provides definitions and context for the creative economy discourse. Beyond giving history, she explores the questions and values driving the conversation both nationally and locally, leading us to the question: What Next?

Christine Harris, CEO of Christine Harris Connections and co-founder of National Creativity Network’s Creative Economy Coalition, has been working with creative enterprises and community development for over 30 years. She began focusing on the creative economy in 2009. Harris co-founded the Creative Economy Coalition, a working committee of the National Creativity Network, and designed and executed the nation’s first review of defining the creative economy with the seminal work America’s Creative Economy: A Study of Recent Conceptions, Definitions, and Approaches to Measurement Across the USA (ISBN 978-0- 99085-730-3). This study profiled and inventoried how 27 communities around the nation were profiling and measuring their creative economies. As co-founder of the Creative Economy Coalition and on behalf of the National Creativity Network, she helped design the National Creative Economy Summits in Washington, D.C. in 2014 and 2015

Christine has worked on creative sector development with the City of Austin, TX; City of Fort Wayne, IN; City of Marquette, MI; Arts Alliance Illinois; ArtServe Michigan; Americans for the Arts; National Endowment for the Arts; National Creativity Network; Arts Wisconsin; Greater Milwaukee, and many others. She was CEO of Creative Alliance Milwaukee, where she managed a full profile of the regional creative economy and developed online resources for the sector.

Christine is considered a key national figure in this work, with the background of over 30 years in cultural administration leadership, cultural economy research and field leadership. Christine has been a consulted advisor and presenter for both the Americans for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Other client and presentation work, in addition to the above, has included Arts Alliance Illinois, Art Serve Michigan, Arts Wisconsin, Americans for the Arts, Greater Milwaukee Committee, and Milwaukee Public Theater. Christine has 25 years of arts administration experience, including CEO of the United Performing Arts Fund (second largest arts fund in the nation) from 2002 to 2007, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Ballet and Director of Marketing and Education for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. For the Ballet, Christine managed a fiscal survival turnaround and at the Symphony Christine founded the national arts education model, Arts in Community Education.

Christine's additional experience includes smaller nonprofit arts management, and executive management in corporate retailing in London, England for ten years. She was also a research assistant/casewriter for Harvard Business School.

Christine has been the recipient of the Business Journal's "Women of Influence" Award 2005, the US Postal Service's "Women Putting a Stamp on Milwaukee" Award 2005, the Sharon Lynn Wilson EDDY Award for regional arts education collaboration 2006; Civic Music Association "Distinguished Citizen" Award in 2008; and Milwaukee Public Theatre's "Champion of the Arts" Award 2010 She holds a Bachelor of Retailing and a Master of Business Marketing from University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a native of Milwaukee, WI. More information can be found at

Resources: The creative economy research was completed with the publication ofAmerica's Creative Economy: A Study of Recent Conceptions, Definitions, and Approaches to Measurement Across the USA

Americans for the Arts has compiled and interpreted a large amount of data to understand and measure the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry. More information about that research can be found at Americans for the Arts.

Houston Arts Alliance has provided the reports specifically about Houston and the Houston region.

» Download the AEPS IV Report for Harris County
» Download the AEPS IV Report for The Greater Houston Area