Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I can make money too

After studying the research of Markusen, I found it to have a refreshingly new take on the artist’s contribution to their local economy. The distinction lies within the breakdown of the “Artistic Dividend” into two categories. The first is referred to as “returns to the region”. It begins with local investments in the creative sector, or a community of artists. A rich cultural center is created through these investments, drawing more artists and firms to the area. This concept has repeatedly appeared in our assigned readings: higher-quality human capital is drawn to the alternative urban lifestyle created by residential artists. However, second factor of the “Artistic Dividend” is unique to the research of Markusen. It is referred to as “current income streams”, or the process by which creative goods and services are exported out the region. Thousands are employed through this process, receiving varied amounts of income. These incomes are then spent on local businesses and the importation of other goods and services, bringing even more capital into the region. By highlighting the impact of “current income streams”, Markusen establishes the role of artists as not only culture-creators, but also contributors to immediate economic turnover.
Though Markusen’s “Artistic Dividend” is distinguished from our previous readings, it holds several important similarities. Currid, in the text “How Art and Culture Happen”, emphasizes the low involvement of the city in cultivating of a cultural district. Local government must adopt a “benign acceptance” of creative development, as any efforts on their part will be only disrupt local artists. Markusen agrees, stating that the artistic dividend is “a product of long term commitments by philanthropists, patrons, and the public sector”. Another similarity found between Currid and Markusen is the concept of opportunity tied up in social networking. Currid places a strong emphasis on the role of “cultural producers, cultural gatekeepers, and owners and managers of entertainment venues” in contributing to the success of a creative sector. Artists are drawn to dense concentrations of these parties, not because they seek the alternative lifestyle therein (which may indeed be true), but because the social connections formed are the key to a successful career. Markusen observes the same, stating that the networking of fellow creative contributors offers “opportunity to improve both their [artist’s] craft and methods for enhancing their exposure and incomes." The agreement of these two reputable social scientists offers a firm support for the role of informal networking and low government involvement in the formation of the creative sector.

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