So, do you think you are part of the “creative class”?

So, do you consider yourself a member of the creative class?

The “creative class” has been talked about and talked about, since Richard Florida wrote his book back in 2004 (was it really that long ago?).  Florida used Department of Labor classifications to determine who is “in” and who is “out”…a stiff structure that was both over and under-inclusive. Since that time, conferences have been held, more books have been written (See Howkins, Pink, and Martin for starters) and people have researched and discussed the “creative class” ad nauseum.  None have agreed on exactly WHAT or WHO constitutes the “creative class”.

Now the “creative class” is being embraced by economic development organizations.  Last year, NCSU’s Institute of Emerging Issues took on “Creativity” as the focus of their annual conference.  Recently, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance kicked off a new initiative on the creative class at its annual meeting, Chatham County Arts Council is holding a Creative Economy Summit on March 19, and I have been talking with other local municipalities recently about their efforts to recruit the “creative class”.

Karen Wells at ArtsNC posted two great articles yesterday on Twitter, which got me thinking further on this subject.  The first article, “Economic Development is an Art, not a Science” from Reilly Keirnan at Foundation Center, is about the artist role in creating communities people want to live in, and how artists need to work together to make sure that their impact on economic development is understood.  The second article, “Creating an Economy of Creativity” from the “ArtsMarket On” blog, discusses the issue of “who is the creative class”.  The author seems to follow the thinking of Daniel Pink and Roger Martin, putting more emphasis on the importance of creativity in inducing innovative and creative thinking, and concludes:

But imagine if we very, very broadly marketed and lobbied and changed thinking so that over time – five years, say – the American public becomes tuned to and “gets” the creativity-innovation partnership. That parents who want their children to grow into careers as scientific researchers or in management realize their kids must be well trained in creativity as a way of thinking and problem solving. That there is a broad spectrum of “creative jobs” – and that perhaps the majority of creative jobs are those that rely upon the talents and skills of creativity to do work that fits into entirely different job types or classifications. That there is a financial, economic value placed on the proven skill of creativity (not just on innovation) so that America wants to “race to the top” as a creative economy.

I recommend both of these short articles (as well as Martin and Pink’s much longer books) to you. Both are great at provoking further thought.

Because Triangle Artworks is an organization with a mission to support and connect the creative community in the Triangle, I get the question of “who is part of the creative community” alot. Generally, when the issue comes up, I take the easy way out and say “if you think you are in the creative class, you are, as far as we are concerned”, and frankly, to come under ArtWorks umbrella, that is all you need.

But as we move forward to work with other groups on economic development and other efforts, and in ArtWorks’ strategic planning, I still struggle with the issue.  For instance, as you know, I am a lawyer, but I work for an arts organization, does that make me a member of the creative class?  I certainly don’t feel very creative.  Richard Florida’s classifications did not include church choir directors…shouldn’t they be included?   How about scientists?  Engineers?  Architects?  Game designers?   Daniel Pink and others embrace all innovative thinkers as part of the economic creative class.  Are there specific factors that determine if a job or person is “in” or “out”?

What do you think?  Who is in and who is out?  And does it matter?  If so/not, then why?

Beth

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply