Comment 64515

By Art Brut (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2011 at 10:05:50 in reply to Comment 64496

Leaving the gay equation out of the picture, in Florida's creative class hierarchy, art is not the new steel – creative capitalism is. Traditional bohemian art represents a somewhat marginal enclave of individuals who fit under the umbrella of "creative class" and who contribute decorative ambience but who have comparatively little economic clout.

Hamilton's top two employers, Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University, are high-value examples of Florida's "creative class". The same can be said of Hamilton's plastic surgeons, lab techs, pharmacists, optometrists, veterinarians, engineers, architects, lawyers, bankers, accountants, insurance underwriters, claims adjusters, marketers, PR agencies, broadcasters, programmers, etc. In other words, the well-paid professionals who, when geographically clustered, can significantly improve the economic profile of their host community. Florida posits something fairly unremarkable: Those cities able to attract a large number of well-paid professionals will experience economic growth.

Not only that, but "creative class" jobs permeate traditional market sectors such as manufacturing. Florida himself has argued as much, saying that “the dichotomy between industrial and post-industrial service and manufacturing economies is a false one. As our report says, the distinction is between creative and routine work." Dofasco is a creative class success story.

Arts, design, and media workers constitute a small subset of the creative class (using 2006 census data, Hill Strategies Research estimated that artists contributed $3.2 billion to a $660.7 billion economy, taking home less than half the wages of their non-artist counterparts). Smaller still are the bohemians whose chief value is in creating experiential zones and unique consumer environments such as boutiques, galleries and cafes. (Hill pegs artisans, craftspersons and visual artists at under a quarter of the arts sector

While it is true that cultural workers do belong to the creative class, it is abundantly clear that they by no means have a lock on creativity. Richard Florida, in his keynote at the 2008 Hamilton Economic Summit, said as much: “Entertainment, today, is a bigger economic sector on the world scene than automotive or steel... That’s how big this thing is. And the creative sector of the economy accounts for more wages and salaries than the manufacturing sector, agricultural sector and the service sector – personal service, retail trade, hotel – combined.” Entertainment is the new steel.

Though accorded naming rights on the index, Florida's "bohemians" are a small population whose chief value is in its ability to create experiential zones and uniquely stimulating consumer environments: That's the buskers, specialty boutiques, cafes, galleries and whatnot. What's lost in a lot of the analysis is the broader dynamic of gentrification – that by virtue of their limited earning power (62% are under LICO, with 17% of all visual artists reporting no earnings), bohemians tend to earmark areas of affordable real estate, and all things being equal, investment tends to accrue in areas where there is active development potential and the promise of favourable ROI.

Permalink | Context

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools