May 17, 2013
The Crayola Experience team hit the streets of New York City this morning, stopping by the Today Show and giving away passes to this visitors center and attraction, which opens next Friday, May 24. JRA provided overall planning, design and project management for Crayola Experience, so keep your web dials to this channel for complete coverage of the grand opening celebrations!
Photos by Crayola Experience. Captions by this blogger.
Matt Lauer's color choices complement his ensemble.
Savannah Guthrie is pretty with pink.
Crayola mascot Tip with a birthday card.
Tip made lots of friends on Times Square, including Hello Kitty and Woody from Disney's Toy Story films.
May 15, 2013
Are robots the new docents?
And there you have it.
Over the past six weeks, we’ve analyzed the impact of museums and other cultural assets on economic development in communities around the world. We began by examining whether arts institutions leave a positive mark on residential property values. We continued by visiting a boutique hotel that channeled its passion for visual art into a core business strategy. We then explored how creative placemaking has transformed urban planning from New York to Manila. Next, we reviewed Richard Florida’s Creative Class Revisited and the theory that the arts attract talent, which then attracts businesses, investment and capital. And last week, we studied the arts’ contribution to regional and national tourism dollars (and pounds and euro), and how destination-marketing organizations are leveraging these cultural institutions to their full advantage.
Assuming these positive correlations are solid (and we’ll debate that point below), external forces such as decreased government funding, continued overall economic stagnation and increased job automation could impede upon these advantageous economic relationships. Elizabeth Merritt, Founding Director of the Center for the Future of Museums, investigates the technology angle in her article, “Will You Lose Your Museum Job to a Robot?” She bases her February 2013 post on the Associated Press’ IMPACT report, which forecasted the effect of technology on employment. The authors’ thesis is that, while technology is creating jobs, it’s rendering more and more positions irrelevant; therefore, the millions of jobs (including museum jobs) that evaporated in 2008 are unlikely to return. Merritt quotes author Martin Ford, who says in the report that “there’s no sector of the economy that’s going to get a pass. It’s everywhere.” If Ford’s theory is correct, museum staff such as docents, ticket agents, collections managers and even food service workers could become obsolete. While Merritt concludes by saying she does not see museums laying off staff because of technology, she does concede that as the economy recovers, museums may choose to invest in hardware and software instead of in their workforce.
When I asked Philip M. Katz, Assistant Director for Research at the American Alliance of Museums, what he felt is having the biggest impact on museum's economic health, he de-emphasized technology and instead focused on the slow post-recession recovery and the steady decrease in government support over the past few years. “Museum staffing has certainly felt the pinch of the economy,” said Dr. Katz. “For several straight years, museums have been downsizing (or at least freezing) their staffs. But very little of this, I think, can be attributed to increases in technology. If some technologies (such as CRM software) are replacing museum workers, other technologies (such as app development and web content creation) are creating new employment opportunities.” He referenced a rejoinder to Merritt’s post written by Nik Honeysett, head of administration at the J. Paul Getty Museum. In the response, Honeysett counters that the cost of providing the kind of technological infrastructure that would replace museum staff would most likely outweigh the benefits of human-based customer service.
Dr. Philip M. Katz
Katz then pointed me toward AAM’s most recent “Annual Condition of Museums and the Economy” report. To compile this report, AAM surveyed its institutional members, including zoos and aquariums. The results were mixed. Museums as a whole served more visitors between 2009-2012 even as their budgets were level or declining. While they showed some financial improvement in 2012, any growth was small and uneven. Only 52% of museums reported an increase in annual attendance, while 28% reported audience decline. Sixty percent of museums reported some level of economic stress. While this is a sizable percentage, it is the lowest one since the survey began in 2009. Nevertheless, museum directors said that “fundraising continues to be difficult” and that “corporate support cannot be planned or anticipated with any accuracy.
While governments that support the arts see an average return on investment of over $7 in taxes for every $1 they appropriate (not an AAM calculation, Katz points out), the arts and culture continue to find themselves on the governmental chopping block. Only 14% of museums surveyed saw increases in government funding, and 31% saw funding declines (and that’s on top of declines suffered in the previous three years). While museums are inching toward sustainability, one director said, “we had a balanced budget in 2012 but only because of reductions in pay or benefits for staff and reductions in programming for the public.” Reductions in staff, salaries and programming could all result in a diminished impact for museums on their surrounding communities.
Perhaps a bigger question than what might adversely affect the arts’ future impact on economic development, however, is whether these cultural institutions have any real direct impact on property values, employment or tourism now. If there is a causal connection, couldn’t it just be a chicken and egg relationship? Are the arts really a catalyst for economic growth, or just a byproduct of it? At a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts/Brookings Institute panel entitled “The Arts, New Growth Theory, and Economic Development”, Dr. Stephen Sheppard, who has provided research fodder for several posts in this series, asserted, “there is a pervasive causal connection between per capita culture production and per capita GDP in US metropolitan economies.” In other words, positive shocks to culture production create positive shocks to GDP. Harvard Professor Edward Glaeser disagreed with Sheppard’s definitive line of thought, countering, “it’s a mistake for arts to try to sell itself as an economic development policy,” and adding that most research on the subject was inconclusive. As a non-academe, I cannot even begin to offer my econometric philosophies on the subject, so I turned again to someone who lives this type of research on a daily basis. Dr. Katz generally agreed with Glaeser that there were no clear positions on the subject and that additional research was needed to provide definitive answers. “But perhaps it’s enough,” he said, “that we’re finally asking the right questions.”
With that in mind, I’ll conclude this series with a quote from Dr. Glaeser, which I believe best sums up the debate over the impact of culture on economic development:
We do nobody a service by claiming we know all the answers, but we do everyone a service if we argue for proper scientific evaluation, because I think we, all of us, should be confident enough in the value of the arts to be confident that those studies will show, in a convincing manner, the impact that the arts can have on our lives.
So let’s keep the dialogue going.
May 10, 2013
Common sense dictates that in order to bring tourists to your town (or state or country), you have to have something for them to see. But how does that break down to dollars and cents? In the last “Business of Culture” post before our (epic) conclusion, we’ll examine the financial impact of “cultural tourism” in the United States and abroad.
In the MASS MoCA study from our “Museums and Property Values” post several weeks ago, Dr. Stephen Sheppard writes that “one of the major advantages of a cultural institution compared with other industrial sectors is that cultural institutions create additional local annual revenue by bringing non-local visitors to town.” Findings from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) seem to support that statement. Americans visited museums 850 million times in the past year, and more people visit museums than all major pro sports events and theme parks combined. Museums rank among the top three family vacation destinations, and 78% of all US leisure travelers participate in cultural or heritage activities. Museums also affect the duration of visits: visitors to historical sites and cultural attractions stay 53% longer and spend 36% more than any other kinds of tourists.
When expanding the playing field to include all arts and cultural institutions, the correlation between museum visits and tourism revenue is even stronger. According to Americans for the Arts’ study “Arts & Economic Prosperity IV”, the average arts attendee spends $24.60 per event, in addition to the cost of the admission ticket, on items such as meals, lodging, retail and child care. In 2010, 39% of arts patrons were non-local attendees, who spend on average twice as much as their local counterparts. Of these non-local attendees, 59.4% reported that the primary reason for their trip was a specific event, and 28.5% spent at least one night away in the location where the event took place. Over 52% of audience respondents said that if the event had not taken place in the location where they were surveyed, they would have gone somewhere else to attend a similar event.
Image courtesy Americans for the Arts
This phenomenon of cultural tourism is not limited to the US. The United Kingdom’s Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) found that eight of the top ten UK visitor attractions in 2012 were museums, and these eight museums received over 31 million visits last year. Museums and cultural attractions are main contributors to the UK’s status as the seventh largest international tourism destination, and the total value of cultural and other tourism to the UK economy in 2009 was £115.4 billion, or 8.9% of GDP. VisitBritain.com states that “the number of jobs that tourism supports is forecast to increase by 250,000 this decade, from 2.645 million to 2.899 million” and that “one in twelve jobs in the UK is either directly or indirectly supported by tourism.” One can infer from the statistic above that a large percentage of those tourism jobs are at cultural in nature, forging yet another link between those institutions and employment.
But how are Convention and Visitors Bureaus making the most of this relationship between museums and tourism? Even in Los Angeles, a city not exactly known for its cultural assets, visitors can find museum exhibits, theatre performances, classical music concerts and more through Discover Los Angeles’ “Experience Builder”. Guests to the website simply click on “Culture”, choose which cultural experiences they’d like have on their visit, and then add their choices to their “MY LA” profile. Meet Minneapolis also takes full advantage of the city’s status as a Top 20 location for culture. Visitors to their website will see the museum category prominently displayed on the homepage, which is no wonder, since museums generate an estimated $53 million in economic activity statewide. Cultural Tourism DC offers a Heritage Walking Tour app, so visitors can make the most of their stay in America’s #1 museum city. And in Ontario, Canada, where cultural tourists make up 22% (9.5 million) of all overnight visits, arts and culture experience bundles are heavily publicized online.
In theory, one need only see the long lines outside the museums on the Smithsonian Mall in Washington D.C., the V&A in London or the Prado in Madrid to surmise that, for domestic and international tourism alike, museums mean big bucks (or quid or euros) for tourism. But how will increased technology and decreased government funding affect these robust tourist numbers? Will museums continue to have such a seemingly profound affect on property values, placemaking, employment and tourism in the face of these challenges? Do all the numbers we’ve thrown around over the past four weeks really point to a positive, causal relationship between museums and economic growth, or is it all just smoke, mirrors and coincidence?
In next week’s conclusion of “The Business of Culture: The Impact of Museums on Economic Development”, we’ll pose these questions and explore a variety of possible answers.
May 06, 2013
Samantha Albert designed a range of nursery furniture for her Capstone project.
We've talked a lot here on the JRA blog about how much we love our amazing co-ops for all the hard work they do on our projects. But we love it even more when they graduate and move on to their professional careers. Last week, four of our former co-ops: Tyronne Carr, Lauren Weir, Emily Sapp and Samantha Albert, donned their caps and gowns and received their bachelors degrees from the University of Cincinnati’s Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) program. In the midst of the pomp and circumstance, I was able to steal Tyronne, Lauren and Emily away and ask them a few questions about their Capstone projects, their future paths and what their co-op experience meant to them.
CR: Congratulations, ladies and gent! It was such a pleasure having you work with us over the years, and we can’t wait to see where you land. Your Capstone projects looked awesome. Tell our blog-reading public a little something about them.
TC: I spent the last year designing Over the Rhine’s first hands-on urban cooking school. The concept is designed to give wannabe home cooks and Cincinnati locals the chance to learn, dine, and build community through the virtue of food with four levels of interactive & educational experiences.
LW: For my capstone project, I chose to do an identity study focusing on the Kentucky Derby annual mark. The goal of my project was to integrate the existing mark for the Kentucky Derby with the annual mark they make for the race each year. My final deliverable was a design proposal that showed how the Kentucky Derby mark could be designed in a consistent system and feel like it connected with the existing visual language but still have variety without limitation.
ES: The goal of my capstone was to creating an experience that cultivated relationships. One of the very few times we take a break from social media and talk face-to-face is while during a meal. I capitalized on those interactions and designed collaborative cooking experience. A host invites friends over and they each have different tasks to complete in the kitchen that all culminate into the final meal.
CR: How has your co-op experience affected your overall DAAP experience?
ES: Currently, I am looking for full-time and freelance opportunities.
TC: My co-op experience made all the difference when it came to DAAP coursework. I can recall countless times I referenced things I've learned on co-op and applied them directly to my projects and presentations. The real-world work experience most importantly influenced my design style in school by constantly reminding me to always consider the question - "How would this concept translate into something real.
LW: The co-op experience at UC was one of the best experiences of my life. It allowed me to see new places and experience all aspects of a design job to help me settle on one that would fit my skills. I learned just as much, if not more, on my co-op terms as I did while I was in school. It was an extremely valuable experience that gave me a head start in the professional world.
CR: What’s next?
LW: After graduation, I will be working with an interactive and ad agency in Atlanta, Georgia, starting this summer. I'm really excited for a new chapter in my life after school. Hopefully, in the next few years I will be able to move around and travel to see more of the country. When I get to Atlanta, I am going to get a puppy, which I am so excited about!
ES: Currently, I am looking for full-time and freelance opportunities. (CR: You hear that, blog readers?)
TC: Currently, my future plans are to begin to pursue implementing my capstone concept and turning it into a reality. As for the near future, I plan to develop my career in experiential design wherever the opportunity presents itself.
Lauren, Emily, Ty and Sam, everyone at JRA wishes you the very best and hopes you visit again very soon!
Tyronne Carr, Laren Weir and Emily Sapp
May 02, 2013
Yesterday, we examined Richard Florida’s theory in The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited that today’s creative, knowledge-based workers often value quality of place (including the range of cultural amenities) over job opportunities and salary as relocation considerations. Indeed, Anne Markusen and Ann Gadwa write in their work, “Creative Placemaking” that nowadays “jobs follow people, rather than the other way around.” They add: "Creative places are cultural industry crucibles where people, ideas and organizations come together, generating new products, industries, jobs and American exports. They nurture entrepreneurs and expand the ranks of self-employed artists and designers who market their creations far afield and often employ others in whole or in part."
I spoke with Tammy Riddle, Director of Economic Development at Cincinnati USA Partnership, and Erin Kidwell, COO of Girl Develop It!, to find out how Richard Florida’s theories hold up in the “real world.” Riddle is constantly marketing Cincinnati’s assets to prospective businesses, and Kidwell not only runs a start-up, but also serves on various arts boards. While they both generally agree with Florida, they each offered their own unique perspectives on business and talent attraction and retention.
“I think Florida's concept is essentially true,” said Riddle. “Cities shouldn't emphasize just the incentives when dealing with prospective businesses. But from my experience, most businesses want the business case first (not incentives): can they find the right talent at the right price, the right building, access new and existing customers... that kind of thing. Then I think the other livable factors come into play as they evaluate the ability to recruit talent to Cincinnati, or if they face relocating employees. Will they be able to retain them during the relocation process? Because relocating means requesting lifestyle changes of their employees, or potential employees. In that case, the quality of life becomes a much larger factor, and the access to cultural institutions becomes a major selling point.”
When I asked Kidwell, whose Girl Develop It! teaches computer programming to women in 16 cities, about the impact of culture assets on entrepreneurship and start-up growth, she said that accelerators usually reside in areas with major cultural assets and creative capital. “GDI is located in accelerators, incubators and startups – all of which flourish in communities with tremendous creative capital. Anywhere you see creative components – arts and cultural centers and startup culture, here comes the neighborhood.” Speaking personally, she said that because she travels all over the country on a regular basis, she doesn’t need to live in Cincinnati: “ but we just happen to be in a city that has great quality of life and cost of living.” The formula she cites is thus: cultural assets create strong friendship networks (by virtue of their value as community gathering spaces), which create pride in the community and attachment to it. Attachment to the community predicts positive perceptions of the local economy. Positive perceptions of the local economy encourage people to invest and spend locally, supporting employment.
“We entertain businesses and site selection reps all the time,” Riddle adds. “People generally accept that Cincinnati is a large business center because of Procter & Gamble, Macy’s, Kroger, etc. Cincinnati’s museums and other quality of life assets are always what blow their mind. We tell them about these amenities, but they don’t get it until they visit. They don’t expect intangibles like 21c, the Contemporary Arts Center and Cincinnati Museum Center. Those museums are intrinsic to Cincinnati and give it its flavor.” While the business case (location of clients, low business costs, profitability) is the cake, the quality of life is the icing. Both Kidwell and Riddle agreed that the ability to attract and retain talent is crucial for company growth. Businesses will look for a pool of complex problem solvers to help them innovate, and they need a community with “territorial assets” to keep these creative professionals at their companies. “Businesses may not come for the quality of life,” said Riddle. “But they stay for it.”
Photo: Thinkstock/Getty Images
Museums and other cultural assets directly and indirectly employ hundreds of thousands of workers each year. They foster a community climate that attracts dynamic knowledge workers and entrepreneurs, thus creating a talent pool attractive to businesses and business accelerators. Most importantly, they give companies and employees a reason to stay, spurring a self-perpetuating culture of innovation and economic growth.
Next week, we’ll cover the final (and perhaps most obvious) impact of museums on economic growth: local, national and international tourism.