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Carmel Arts and Design District


Creative Economies

A creative economy is one that uses imagination to increase value. Creative industries usually refer to specific sectors of the economy, while a creative economy uses ideas as the base for an economic system rather than the more structured and traditional economic frameworks of labor, capital, etc. Hamilton County Tourism has defined support of these “creative economies” as fundamental in not only to make this community a great place to live, but also a great place to visit.

Hamilton County is home to three designated Indiana Arts Commission designated Arts Districts – the only one in the state of Indiana to have more than one such district. Already, the nonprofit creative economy contributes more than $58 million to the local GDP, supporting almost 2,000 jobs.


Successful Communities

Communities that truly embrace the creative economy understand the economic value of this industry and how that industry contributes to the overall societal “health” of a community. Rather than using creativity as a “checklist item” for what city planners perceive make a city a great place to live, communities with a thriving creative economy explore ways to integrate the culture into all aspects of its growth.

Because communities require formal structures and planning, often enveloping the less formal and structured creative economy is challenging. Hamilton County Tourism, a proven convener around big ideas, support these collaborations?

Overall Goals of the Project

Hamilton County Tourism has long-supported the community’s creative economies through startups (Noblesville Creates), lead gifts (Center for the Performing Arts), impact studies (Arts & Prosperity 5 Study by the Americans for the Arts), micro-grants to a variety of performing and visual arts organizations, marketing and technical assistance.

This new project will provide more structure around these activities and specifically focus on three pillars:

  1. Supporting Hamilton County’s communities in their quest to grow their creative economies
  2. Supporting the creative thinkers who choose to work in this specific economic sector, with an emphasis on “makers” as Hamilton County’s national public relations strategy has identified that as a significant area of strength to enhance the visitor experience
  3. Supporting creative organizations that contribute to the county’s overall creative economy, both nonprofit and for-profit

To do this, Hamilton County Tourism will build on its existing base and the arts districts:

  • Inventory – Create an asset inventory (people, places, things) in the county as a benchmark and identify gaps
  • Listen – Convene thought leaders in the industry regularly to hear opportunities and barriers to success
  • Inspire – Create opportunities for travel to inspiring places, support attendance at workshops and conferences
  • Support – Provide technical assistance and financial support to the three pillars above
  • Market – Use the talent and expertise of HCT’s marketing team to share


Arts Contacts

City of Carmel
Anne O’Brien

Town of Cicero
Sarah Buckner

City of Fishers
Ross Hilleary

City of Noblesville
Ailithir McGill

City of Westfield
Kayla Arnold