As regular readers are aware, I completed an independent study on public policy and the arts for my business school program in the second half of the spring semester. What you might not have realized is that four of my recent mega-posts on this blog were actually written as assignments for that class: Deconstructing Richard Florida, On the Arts and Developing Communities, Reconstructing Florida, and On the Arts and Sustainability. Forcing myself to read the wealth of background material that went into those posts was an incredibly helpful, if challenging, exercise, and it’s one that I hope to continue in the future (more on that later this week). In the meantime, here’s a summary of my most important takeaways from my studies so far:
- The most robust evidence for the economic impact of the arts appears to be the relationship between the density of artistic activity and rising real estate prices in an area.
- There is some evidence for a connection between concentrations of artists and overall urban economic growth, but it is much weaker and the causal relationship has not been firmly established.
- Almost everyone who does or researches community cultural development for a living seems to think that networks of small, community-based arts organizations are more effective in building social, civic, and economic capital in cities than mammoth, flagship institutions. I have not seen much research to back up this opinion, with one exception: two studies show that community-based organizations, especially those with culturally-specific programming, appear to do a much better job reaching very poor neighborhoods than flagship institutions.
- Generally speaking, the more that the arts can be brought out of their shell and into broader, ongoing community stakeholder discussions, the more that both the arts and the community will benefit.
- The internet, while making it possible for more people than ever before to reach an audience and establish a public identity, may at the same time be making it harder for artists to make a full-time living from their work over the long term. Reconciling these two impacts might well be one of the major challenges of policymaking in the 21st century.
If you have any interest in following along with my studies, and learning a lot more about arts policy in the process, I’ve reprinted my syllabus for you below. (Note: I ended up going beyond the syllabus in a number of instances in order to write the essays linked above; you’ll find additional articles referenced there.) You might also check out this collection of cultural policy course syllabi on the (now archived) Community Arts Network website.
Unit I: Exploring Creative Class Theory
Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class, chapters 1-2, 5, 12, 16-17
Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan Cool Cities Survey: Summary of Findings
Unit II: Creative Class Theory Revisited: Critical Responses
Rise of the Creative Class, chapters 4, 13-14, appendices A-C
Ann Daly, “Richard Florida’s High Class Glasses”
Florida, “Revenge of the Squelchers”
Mark Stern and Susan Seifert, Knight Creative Communities Initiative (KCCI) Evaluation: Final Report
Stern and Seifert, From Creative Economy to Creative Society
Assignment: Hyperlinked essay on Richard Florida
Unit III: Cultural Palaces vs. Watering the Grassroots: Two Conflicting Strategies
Rise of the Creative Class, chapter 10
Hilary M. Ballon, “How the Arts Transformed an Urban Landscape,” New York Times 6/8/03
Gene Sloan, “Lighting the Way in Kansas City: Modest Metropolis in the Midwest is Undergoing a Mighty Renewal,” USA Today 8/17/07
Stephen C. Sheppard et al., Culture and Revitalization: The Economic Effects of MASS MoCA on Its Community
Stern and Seifert, Cultivating “Natural” Cultural Districts
Unit IV: Art and the Community
Robert LaLonde et al, Mapping Cultural Participation in Chicago
Stern and Seifert, Philadelphia and Camden Cultural Participation Benchmark Project
Anja Wodsak et al, Building Arts, Building Community: Informal Arts Districts and Neighborhood Change in Oakland, California
Michael Powell, “A Condo Tower Grows in Brooklyn,” Washington Post 2/21/07
Assignment: Hyperlinked essay on Community-Based Arts Development
Unit V: Cultural Facilities and Creative Solutions
Duncan Webb, Demand Analysis of Small-Scale Cultural Facilities in San José
ERA Architects Inc. et al, A Map of Toronto’s Cultural Facilities: A Cultural Facilities Analysis
Jeffrey Spivak, “The Artist Dividend,” Urban Land July 2007
Simon Houpt, “Artists’ Home Finds Unlikely Saviour,” The Globe and Mail 3/24/08
The Reinvestment Fund, Crane Arts: Financing Artists’ Workspaces (note: TRF’s Don Hinkle-Brown wrote in to suggest this document instead)
Webb Management Services et al, New Haven Cultural Facilities Master Plan (hard copy only)
Unit VI: The Economic Context of the Arts
Ann Markusen et al, Crossover: How Artists Build Careers across Commercial, Nonprofit, and Community Work
William J. Baumol and William G. Bowen, Performing Arts: The Economic Dilemma, chapter 7
Chris Anderson, The Long Tail, chapters 2, 8
Charles Leadbeater and Paul Miller, The Pro-Am Revolution
Kevin Kelly, “1,000 True Fans,” The Technium blog 3/4/08
Assignment: Hyperlinked essay on the Arts and Sustainability
Unit VII: Towards a Healthy Arts Ecosystem
Julia F. Lowell, State Arts Policy: Trends and Future Prospects
Susan Christopherson, Creative Economy Strategies for Small and Medium Size Cities: Options for New York State
Mt. Auburn Associates, Utilizing Tax Incentives to Cultivate Cultural Industries and Spur Arts-Related Development
Tom Borrup, The Creative Community Builder’s Handbook, chapters 2-3
Assignment: New Haven Arts Policy Brief