Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Where the Scene is At? Sam Shepard and Dublin

Richard Florida wrote The Rise of the Creative Class in the early 2000's. In it, he tried to document the emergence of the value of creative work in our society and how the class of creative workers, (which he still has trouble coralling into a defined group,) are increasingly defining our economy and how we all work.

His follow up book, The Flight of the Creative Class, took on the larger issue of how the global economy is playing into this. In short, Florida's thesis in Flight was the following: The loss of manufacturing jobs to outsourcing seems to take center stage in the discourse of our economic policies, but more dangerous to our future could be the loss of our creative talents.

He mentions how young creatives graduating in fields like high tech are no longer just deciding which city in America to which they will move. Now, the whole globe is open to them! For instance, it is not uncommon for a new graduate to consider Dublin, Ireland as a place to work. Open, technologically improving, and great fun, Dublin is becoming the ideal creative center in the world. Florida argues that instead of spending all of our energy worrying about losing manufacturing to China, we should at least start looking at ways we can prevent losing our scientists, artists and developers to Europe and Canada.

There are many critics of Florida's theses, and most of them are legitimate, fair points. However, to paraphrase one critical reviewer: There are many critical questions raised by the Creative Class theories, but, in the end, Florida just seems to get so much right that you can't dismiss him out of hand.

Case in point, the following excerpt from a new Village Voice article about Sam Shepard's return to New York to direct Stephen Rea in a production of a new play:

I would say that Richard Florida could have actually wrote that paragraph, if I didn't know any better.
What constitutes a scene?

I think we are getting more of a theatre scene here in Boston, but is there anything we can do to help it along? Is it an organic process that can't be influenced, or can we take positive steps to make sure that Boston continues as place where young theatre artists are coming to stake their claim?

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