Entertainment is now the one of the nation’s leading export industries. Nationally, there are more than a half million businesses that employ 2.7 million in “creative” industries. The Americans for the Arts, a leading art advocacy nonprofit organization, defines the “creative” industries as arts-centric businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters, to for-profit films, architecture, and advertising agencies.
These creative industries are a growing part of the economy in Greater Owensboro. The number of creative industry jobs in the region jumped from 375 in 2004 to 446 in 2006, an increase of 18.9 percent. Those growth figures outpaced creative job growth in the state (4.1 percent) between 2004 and 2006. The number of creative industries also increased from 108 in 2004 to 117 in 2006, an 8.3 percent increase. Industry growth in Kentucky grew 9.9 percent during the same period.
The largest increase in Owensboro came in the performing arts and music. The growth opportunities in the arts and film industry are one reason the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. is working cooperatively with other regional economic development agencies to create a film commission in western Kentucky in hopes of attracting films to this growing creative center.
Unusual among cities of its size, Owensboro boasts a thriving arts life. The River Park Center, whose two auditoriums hosted more than 150 performances and 900 civic events last year, presents a wide variety of entertainment, including productions designed especially for students. The River Park Center is also known as "Broadway West" in the national theater community. Each year the River Park hosts theater companies while they build touring shows like 42nd Street. Some local talent is used in set building, costumes and technical areas before the production launches a world tour beginning with an Owensboro premiere in Cannon Hall.
In 2007 RiverPark Center inaugurated a Mystery Writers Festival which premiered 12 new mystery plays and drew writers, directors and performers, as well as audience members and workshop participants, from all parts of the United States.
To see the Creative Industries Report for arts-related employment in Greater Owensboro go to the following link: http://aftadc.brinkster.net/Kentucky/senate/KY-SEN-008.pdf