Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

“Creative” Concentration and Disparities

After Andrew’s presentation on Monday where he mentioned Richard Florida’s book “Rise of the Creative Class,” I saw this article in the DCist and Washington Post about a new report from the organization Richard Florida heads, the Martin Prosperity Group.books The report shows the geographic and income divide between the “knowledge based creative class” and the working and service classes in the DC/VA/MD region. The comprehensive report actually did this for a number of US cities nationwide.  I ended up down an internet worm hole learning more about the Creative Class, the Creative Economy and Richard Florida’s theories on developing the Creative Class into the Creative Society.

Over the past decade plus, the creative class has emerged as the driving force for economic growth and innovation. This weeks report highlights the wage disparity between people working in the creative class (the innovators in Silicon Valley but also healthcare, business and finance, the legal sector, and education) and people working outside of the creative class. Florida’s report highlights a new difference between the creative and service classes – while historically high income individuals and families leave the city in favor of more space in the suburbs and the ability to afford cars, the new creative class has been moving into cities, increasing housing prices downtown and pushing lower income individuals and families (who perhaps cannot afford a car) out of the city and further away from resources. While I think this high concentration of “creative” types with disposable income in the city is exciting for the arts, I find this wage and location disparity disturbing. Especially as more and more services and goods are packaged and sold as experiences (Experience Economy), I’m curious as to how economists predict opportunities for growth in the service and working classes. (And am hoping Florida’s book goes into more detail on this because I just ordered it.)

What do fellow arts managers think?


One comment on ““Creative” Concentration and Disparities

  1. emkais
    October 2, 2014

    I also find it troubling. However, I think framing this alongside the growing creative communities in traditionally lower price tag cities—or even traditionally economically stunted cities—like Memphis, Durham, or even Denver provides a silver lining. I do think the social and economic impact in major cities will be interesting as it’s essentially a reversal of the “white flight” of the last century. Considering our class conversation last week, the role that arts centers can play as platforms for connecting people and fostering creativity within a community can have long-term impact on youth and their ability to grow socially and economically. I think location is a consideration that arts organizations can and should consider in an effort to ensure they’re accessible by all.

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