Some news and notes from Createquity land here. First, as I mentioned a few posts back, I gave a presentation at school on April 2 about economic development and the arts. I’m happy to email the slides to anyone who’s interested, but basically the takeaways are as follows:
1. Artists can be a driver for economic development. I have to do more research to be able to say it with scientific certainty, but there is certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that a thriving arts community can cause land values to rise faster than they would otherwise.
2. The market is not good at delivering value created by the artists back to the artists. This is because most artists in urban environments do not own the spaces in which they work, and so the positive externalities created by their presence and activity end up generating economic benefits for others.
3. It is difficult to impossible to create an artistic community out of a vacuum. Most successful artist colonies that have grown organically seem to have done so in areas that possess the following attributes: availability of large, interesting, affordable spaces; strong existing infrastructure, especially transportation infrastructure; and reasonable proximity to other centers of cultural activity. Basically, spaces that would be attractive to anyone were they not adversely affected by industrial decay or above average crime, the most common reasons why the spaces are cheap to begin with.
4. The presence of artists in an area is not enough to make a difference on its own. What really pushes a neighborhood or city past the tipping point is the development of storefront space that takes advantage of the arts community’s talents, meaning galleries, performance spaces, museums, theaters, or even college campuses. This kind of small-scale infrastructure is critical to identifying the area as a destination for local tourism.
With these in mind, I proposed a microfinance model for the arts, which a philanthropic organization could use to provide targeted funding to these infrastructure levers and have a community-wide impact on a relatively small investment. I’ll write more on this subject in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, next week is looking to be an exciting one. On Thursday, my piece Three Miniatures for Violin and Marimba will be given its Connecticut premiere at the IGIGI New Music Marathon. IGIGI is the undergraduate student ensemble at Yale that grew out of the Yale College Composers’ Group, which I founded in my junior year. My memories of the all-night new music marathons, which generally begin at 8pm and end with Terry Riley’s In C as the sun rises in the morning, are some of my fondest from my college days. It’ll be fun to be back. The previous day, I’ll be in Rochester, NY speaking at the Great Lakes Conference hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Genesee Valley. I’m serving as a panelist on a discussion about the landscape of philanthropy. Looking forward to it!
Update: John Zebrowski has written a really nice article on this presentation for the Yale SOM website.