Florida’s chicken/egg problem

There’s a great story in Macleans this week about Calgary’s arts sector turning the city into a cultural mecca.

Richard Florida says that the creative class leads to strong and successful economies so economic developers are scrambling to become ‘creative’. I have always said that strong and successful economies lead to creative cities because there’s lots of dough around to fund creative endeavour.

Calgary is a perfect example. Did the city become creative and that led to an oil boom? Maybe Andy Warhol was up there drilling for oil.

Or did a very strong economy generate the money to fund creative endeavour?

I do think it becomes a virtuous cycle. Economy begets creativity begets innovation begets economy.

But it starts with economy. So the next time an economic developer in New Brunswick wants to cut business attraction and sector development efforts in favour of funding creativity, I think they should pause and think it through.

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0 Responses to Florida’s chicken/egg problem

  1. Anonymous says:

    Please read Chapter 14 of Richard Florida’s “The Rise of the Creative Class”. The title is “Technology, Talent and Tolerance – The 3 T’s of Economic Development”.

    And an excerpt from the first paragraph: “Each is a necessary but by itself insufficient condition: To attract creative people, generate innovation and stimulate economic growth, a place must have all three”.

    Beware of either/or thinkers. They are usually skewed in their thinking.

  2. Philippe says:

    Always enjoy your blog… I don’t comment much, but as an NBer born and raised, working as a graphic artist who knows tons of so-called “creative class” types in the area, I thought I’d throw in my two cents.

    If we’re talking “creative cities”, the last place I’d expect to hear is Calgary… Many friends of mine are living there right now, however none fit the description of “creative class” whatsoever. On the other hand, none of the artists, musicians, urban planners or IT workers I know have ever expressed any interest in moving to Calgary. The general consensus is that money is only a small part of the equation, and most creative types I know would much rather earn a lower wage in a vibrant, small-scale, open-minded and tolerant area than earn big money in a socially conservative, sprawling, cold city.

    Out of the 50+ “creative class” NBers I’ve known over the years who have left the province, lots have moved to Montreal, Vancouver or on Vancouver Island… quite a few have moved to Whitehorse, a few in southern Ontario and Europe. Not a single one landed in Calgary.

    I’ll try and get my hands on that Maclean’s story, it certainly sounds like it paints a much different picture of Calgary than what I hear from people who live/have lived there.

  3. nbt says:

    Don’t tell that to Yann Martel or Margaret Atwood who seem to think it matters what government is in power, or for that matter, the power of their cultural subsidies.

    Obviously it didn’t matter in Calgary (and it shouldn’t in the rest of the country).

    Not to mention, the more freedom your society has, the more freedom of expression in the arts.

  4. David Campbell says:

    Folks, I buy into the notion of the importance/linkage of culture, creativity and innovation and its impact on economic development. However, I think my point is that you don’t replace a pulp mill with an art gallery and cross your fingers.

  5. Trevor says:

    I like your chicken/egg scenario David. The answer to your question is that the chicken or the egg would cease to exist without the perfect idea of the chicken. In terms of your argument, the first thing that needs to happen is for people to awaken that WE can have a vibrant and creative economy to fit the 21st century. Once people buy into the idea, changes will begin happening.

    For this to happen, we need leaders to emerge and not be afraid to fall under the tide of cynacism from those who would rather critique then change. Whether we think we can or can’t we are right…

  6. mikel says:

    All arts get ‘subsidies’ either from wealthy patrons or governments. Both are ‘subsidies’, in other words, the ‘arts’ themselves don’t pay the bills, the only difference is where the cash comes from.

    Again I’d tote the television station idea. It would be government funded just to start it, because otherwise it wouldn’t get done, sort of like TVO. It is a ‘business’, but it is a creative industry (although theres a fine line when deciding what exactly is ‘creative’ and what not).

    To fill 24 hours a day, and virtually unlimited hours on the internet, you have a MASSIVE creative project-what do you think built the internet? It wasn’t just porn.

    And of course that creativity opens a new venue for businesses trying to attract customers.

    So each program can find their own customers, the more popular the program, or the more aimed at a target audience, the more money available to the creative artist.

    So thats a perfect example of how a ‘cultural’ industry can be created which easily has as much potential as a pulp mill. In case you haven’t noticed, most places around the world aren’t saying “we want to grow our economy-now where can we find a pulp mill?”

    This is a good discussion to have, but come on, we’re talking about MacLeans-Canadas answer to USA Today. If a city has a bowling alley there will be an article on its generous amount of cultural industries. Hell, here in Waterloo we have a ‘Clay and Glass Gallery’ so everybody can talk about its cultural amenities-nobody ever talks about the other issue-that nobody ever goes there!

    What is usually never mentioned is that ‘creative’ in business articles always means something very specific. In the old days it was a big deal (and still is in rural areas and for parents) when the school put on a play or a reading. That is also creative. Go to St.Stephen or St. Andrews, or Sussex or especially Sackville or Buctouche and you will see places literally run by ‘creative industries’. Thats essentially what tourism is, try to unload some local flavour on people from away to make a few bucks.

    You find creativity all over the place-in some places it makes money, in some it doesn’t. Type New Brunswick into youtube and you will get all kinds of stuff. In other words, its so big that ‘critics’ can make the ‘industry’ mean anything they want it to mean. In NB though, there is a big problem-apart from the internet it is not ‘public’. Acadiaman is the only ‘show’ on Rogers, and all the other radio stations and TV stations are ‘from away’. I remember reading that when the landfill in F’ton caught fire, they couldn’t warn people because all the radio stations were on tape.

    But culture in the public eye comes from television, radio, magazines-unfortunately those are lacking in NB or else they are owned by Irving which gives a very skewered view of the culture. The internet is starting to change that, it’ll be interesting to see how. The acadie nouvelle website has all kinds of acadian stuff, I’ve never seen an english alternative.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The old saying that necessity is the motherhood of invention holds true.

    It would be a shame to have the silver lining aspect of mill closures, that is necessity, nullified by money that essentially props up a non profitable sector.

    Necessity can help pull communities together, help them face reality and hopefully provoke progressive leadership to come forward [e.g. Summerside PEI base closure, Moncton NB Eatons/CN closure]. If this is allowed to happen, there could be a long term sustainable, shall I say self-sufficient, economic future. And yes, monies should go to support the revised vision but not to bail out bad business.