Monday, August 04, 2008

Mass Creative Class

Geoff Edgers interviews Jason Schupbach about his new role as Massachusetts' Creative Economy Director:

Q. There's a perception that your job is compared with the kind of
grass-rootsy jobs that are probably being done by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Ann McQueen at the Boston Foundation, for example.

A. As far as nonprofits go, we have an agency that does that.
That's the MCC and I don't need to replicate all the work they do. What we see ourselves going forward doing is really working in partnerships with those agencies. Obviously when you take the fuller, broader creative community you have to look at nonprofits, you have to look at artists. We have agencies who do all of that. My job is to make sure we're all partnering and working together but that the for-profit side is really included in all those conversations.

Q. Can you just sketch the scope of how many businesses would count as the for-profit creative economy?

A. There are four industries we're really going to focus on
starting off with: film, design - very broadly defined - advertising, and video games. Because that's really our four strongest assets we see in the for-profit creative industries. That's a lot of work to even start with. Each of them has their own distinct, interesting needs. We're going to be partnering closely with the Massachusetts Film Office.

Edgers also asks a pointed question about the value of building a large film studio complex. His basic point: What if you build it and, suddenly, another state starts offering better tax incentives and the movie business goes away?

Richard Florida's Creative Class theories are more complex than most people remember, even after reading the book. But there is one constant that Florida cautions against: Large investments in facilities. Instead, his theories of urban revitilazation concentrate on social, economic and lifestyle enhancements and focus on street level improvements in diversity and artistic expression.

If I read Florida correctly, he would advise that investment in areas like the Fort Point Artists Community, Union Square in Somerville and in facilities more like the Boston Center for the Arts would be far more beneficial to attracting the creative class than a large complex in Plymouth.

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