The arts are a workplace and living hub. The presence of art and cultural events is naturally attractive, particularly to a younger demographic, and often deterministic when it comes to choices about where to live and work. The true value of art derives from this innate understanding of art’s key, but often unspoken, role in many of the most important choices that we make, i.e. where to live, work and congregate. Those choices in turn propel economic activity. 

 

In his groundbreaking book, “The Rise of The Creative Class,” Richard Florida employs exhaustive research to determine that “places with a flourishing artistic and cultural environment are the ones that generate creative economic outcomes and overall economic growth.”  That in fact it is easy to extrapolate an area’s degree of innovation and the penetration of high technology industries, as well as its employment and population growth, based upon the resident number of artists (painters, sculptors, photographers, dancers, actors, writers, ect.).

 

Of the 350 public art programs across the U.S., the average size is just under 800K. In total, the programs fund $150M annually in public art with a decidedly upward trend. The genesis of these municipal programs is traceable to the National Endowment for the Arts’ decision to establish its program, Art in Public Places with the belief that art in highly-trafficked locations can serve as a balm to the spirit, while encouraging camaraderie and group gatherings.

 

There’s an understanding that attracting a younger, educated workforce requires that an area possess a certain creative ‘buzz’.  Supporting the arts therefore is crucial, hence the types of programs that exist in Lucas County, OH, or Manchester, England, or Columbia, MO.  These types of programs foster the flourishing of the arts and cultural opportunities, and ultimately result in an enhanced quality of life. 

 

In Lucas County, OH, the new Art Assist program provides 1% loans to residents to purchase art from area galleries with price tags between $500 to $2,500. The program’s ultimate aim is improvement of the county’s quality-of-life by enhancing its art scene and thus attracting highly sought after younger, educated workers. The program was modeled on that put in place in Manchester, England, a once vibrant factory city in need of redirection in the technology age.  There, civic leaders also came to view a thriving arts scene as vital to its rebirth. 

  

In Atlanta, GA, a new condo tower called Gallery is being developed complete with a 1,200 square foot art gallery featuring rotating exhibits anchoring the ground floor. The tower is expected to attract residents interested in creative clustering, not to mention the fact that each unit includes original contemporary art loaned to residents. 

 

In Columbia, MO, a unique arts program encourages businesses to purchase new artwork from area artists every year.  Organizers believe that original art has a strong impact on businesses’ ability to attract and retain employees. The feedback is that these businesses are perceived as offering a more cutting-edge, innovative atmosphere. 

 

When an area requires revitalization, the first tool in the governing body’s arsenal should be art.  In recognition of this reality, the state of Maryland in 2002 established the nation’s first Arts and Entertainment Districts designed to bring together artists and arts-related venues in order to spur development.

 

The data are clear that in terms of job creation, household income and governmental revenue, the arts are an invaluable industry. Therefore, the primary decision for cities and states must center around anchoring the arts.

 

Capucine Price

http://www.CapucinesBoulevard.com

Email: Support@CapucinesBoulevard.com

January 23, 2008

 

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