May 30, 2013
Seated from left: Mark O'Neill and Edward J. Friel
As reported in InPark Magazine today, last week the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) welcomed 5,000 attendees to its Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo. Throughout the course of the MuseumExpo, guests were treated to a variety of engaging educational sessions, ranging from career development to international collaboration to technology. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be covering the two we had the pleasure of attending and look forward to hearing what our readers have to say about their sessions.
Kicking things off on Tuesday was “Glasgow Museums: Building a Sense of Place That Reaps Huge Economic, Social and Cultural Benefits.” Given our recent blog series, we were interested to hear how museums had transformed this Scottish city from a post-industrial wasteland to the 1990 European Capital of Culture. Participating in AAM’s “Big Idea Session” of the day were Edward J. Friel, Professor at Niagara University, and Mark O’Neill, Director of Policy & Research at Glasgow Life, an organization who’s vision is “to inspire Glasgow’s citizens and visitors to lead richer and more active lives through culture, sport and learning.
O’Neill began by offering some of Glasgow’s history. In 1900, the city was Europe’s fourth largest, but its population has dropped by more than half since. When heavy industry collapsed in the 1970s, the government actually told companies not to invest in Glasgow because it had fallen so far from its former glory. Two hundred thousand Glaswegians were in poverty, including 70,000 children, and the country’s citizens suffered from low life expectancy and poor education.
Despite enduring this depressive time of economic contraction, Glasgow’s citizens still patronized its arts and cultural assets, and the city still invested in them. The local government spent roughly $30 US per person on museums, and 50% of Glaswegians visited museums every year. Visitation spiked in the 1980s, due to Glasgow investing even more heavily in cultural assets such as the Burrell Collection, which in its first year welcomed 100,000 visitors. Museums were part of a cultural civic story ingrained in Glasgow since the Victorian era, when parks, arts, and literature where seen as integral aspects of a civilized life. But Glasgow needed to reinterpret that relationship for the 21st century.
Glasgow Cathedral. Photo: Wikipedia
Those interested in building this 21st century cultural infrastructure asked Glasgow, “don’t you want a Guggenheim?” The response was a resounding “no”: the city wanted to concentrate on its existing arts assets. These assets included the Open Museum, an innovative, free service that takes museum objects – not replicas – on the road for the community to see and touch. In addition to emphasizing hands-on interactions with museum materials, Glasgow invested in “sites of meaning making” and adaptive re-uses of existing buildings. Its historic Glasgow Cathedral (also called St. Mungo’s) now welcomes 200,000 visitors per year. The Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is housed in a re-purposed city commerce building and aims to recruit traditional art goers to contemporary art. Its permanent galleries feature themes that resonate with global and Glaswegian artists alike, and its changing exhibits are inspired by what the city owns. GOMA is now the most visited modern art gallery in Scotland.
Kelvingrove Museum. Photo: Wikipedia
Kelvingrove Museum is one of Scotland’s most popular free attractions, with 22 galleries and over 8,000 objects. When the museum was refurbished between 2003 and 2006, O’Neill’s goal was to “modernize it without improving it worse.” His team wanted to emphasize Kelvingrove’s commitment to education and give the Glaswegians a sense of ownership over it. Foregoing a geographical or historical approach for an “object-story” approach, objects were organized by theme (e.g., “Souvenirs of War”, “Glasgow and the World”) and were put into context by “intro galleries” to make the art more approachable. The museum even applied this guest-centric approach to its archives, offering behind-the-scenes tours, the philosophy being that the objects are those of the people, and therefore, the people should have access to them. As a result of these transformations, Kelvingrove has attracted 3 million visitors per year since its re-opening in 2006. “The museum is deeply rooted in its own history,” said O’Neill, “but now that history can be shared with the world. Together we can create stories that make our lives more meaningful.”
So, we’ve heard about the before and the after, but how did Glasgow’s cultural journey evolve? It evolved by examining what culture meant to the city and how it could be better harnessed and promoted. “Places market their culture,” said Edward J. Friel, “but different types of social scientists define culture differently.” He defined it as a fundamental need for belonging – when we don’t have that sense of place, we are dispossessed. More and more, he continued, people are finding their place in cities, sparking the need to create sustainable communities. The key to creating such communities, he said, was to identify the nature of problems, finding solutions for those problems and then brokering support for the solutions. Cities need to own their difficulties, which Friel says is exactly what Glasgow did: “people lost their civic pride when industry collapsed.”
In his work helping to re-gain that Glaswegian civic pride, Friel and his colleagues needed to identify Glasgow’s “assets of place” and identify the city’s tourism product supply chain. In 1983, tourists traveled to Edinburgh and then turned north. As Friel put it, “the only people who came to Glasgow were those who were lost.” To combat this perception, Friel’s team assembled seven different public/private organizations, each with their own civic regeneration mandate, including the Creative Glasgow Tourist Board (publicity/promotion), Glasgow Action (economic development), and other organizations tasked with making the city clean, green, safe and welcoming for tourists. These organizations devised an event-led strategy, which, combined with the investments in arts infrastructure, led to the city being named the European Capital of Culture in 1990. A £1.5 million advertising campaign, featuring glossy pics of five different everyday Glaswegians, were emblazoned with sassy taglines such as “Glasgow: Scotland with Style” and “Glasgow: The New Black.”
While the tourist market laughed at these ads at first, it was Glasgow that was left smiling in the end. Between 1983 and 2003, hotel bookings exploded from 1,100 rooms to 17,500. Tourism employment also skyrocketed from 1,500 to 68,000. And convention income went from zero (yes zero) to $50 million. The momentum hasn’t stopped in the last decade. Glasgow welcomes 3.57 million tourists per year, and its Riverside Museum, Scotland’s museum of transport and travel, was recently named the 2013 European Museum of the Year. The success of all seven organizations working together was spurred by an overwhelming goal. “We needed to be service leaders, to serve the community we lived in,” said Friel. “We were winning for Glasgow.”
Next week, we shift from economic development to technology, as we explore how three museums are incorporating gaming into their exhibits.
May 24, 2013
Crews continue to work on Casino Pier evening as the Grand Opening begins in the background. Images provided by Casino Pier
Today marked the opening of two JRA projects, less than 120 miles apart by car.
Casino Pier, the cherished oceanfront amusement park whose boardwalk and pier was dismantled by October 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, hired JRA to provide master planning and programming services for Phase I of a two-phase rebuilding effort. The attraction opened its food, beverage, retail, arcade outlets and carousel today and plans to unveil more new and renovated rides later this summer.
Originally opened in 1960, Casino Pier housed 38 rides, as well as a rooftop miniature golf course, concessions stands and boardwalk games. JRA worked closely with the Casino Pier owners on the proposed master plan, which called for the boardwalk and pier to retain those rides that were salvaged after the hurricane, including the Disk’O ride, Skyscraper ride, Pirate’s Hideaway coaster, Sky Ride chair lift and several treasured kiddie rides. Casino Pier is using this opportunity to update its ride mix with new family attractions and to refresh food, beverage and retail outlets.
“Casino Pier enjoyed working with JRA in the rebuilding of the pier,” said Vincent Storino, Owner of Casino Pier. “Eventually Casino Pier is going to be bigger and better! That’s what we do on the Jersey Shore. We fight and we come back. This was an opportunity for us to re-imagine our property. We look forward to being able to maintain the traditions our guests are used to while also incorporating a new, fresh design and bringing new innovative concepts from JRA to life on Casino Pier.”
Casino Pier was featured on the Today Show this morning. Have a look!
Images provided by Crayola Experience
Also opening today was Crayola Experience, with four floors full of family fun and 18 exciting interactive attractions. From personalized crayon-makers to larger-than-life animated art adventures, the all-new Crayola Experience is designed to help children of all ages discover the magic of color and reconnect with one of the world’s most iconic and nostalgic brands.
JRA provided overall planning, design development and project management for Crayola Experience’s 60,000 square feet of exhibits, interactives and activities, with exhibit fabrication provided by 1220 Exhibits, Inc. Throughout the attraction, guests can create digital works of art and interact with them on large projected surfaces, appear in their very own coloring page with some of Crayola’s characters, learn how crayons are made in the Crayon Factory, and create objects with melted wax while taking in the aroma of one of the world’s most recognizable scents. In only-here areas unique to Crayola Experience, guests of all ages can use their color-mixing skills to create their own clear barrel marker in Marker Mania and fashion their own crayon label in Wrap It Up! If they are hungry from all of that activity, they can recharge at Café Crayola, where they can enjoy Crayola-inspired foods from colored cupcakes to design-your-own pizzas, while checking out the World’s Largest Crayon.
As one of the region’s most popular and affordable family-friendly destinations, and the most colorful place on Earth, Crayola Experience has drawn more than 4 million visitors to downtown Easton, PA since 1996, averaging 300,000 guests per year. With its new attractions, Crayola expects that number to grow to nearly half a million annual visitors.
“This brand and this business is fundamentally about sparking the creative spirit that we believe exists in the heart of every child,” said Mike Perry, Chief Executive Officer of Crayola. “We believe that creativity can be taught. It certainly should be nurtured. But importantly, we believe that creativity has to be experienced. And that’s what this place is all about.”
So if you're on the East Coast, stop by these two new attractions, and check with back with the JRA blog for more opening day coverage and interviews coming soon.
Tags: Project Spotlight
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.
May 01, 2013
Do cultural resources such as Syracuse's MOST Science Center spur job growth in the surrounding community?
And we’re back with “The Business of Culture: Museums as Economic Development.” But before we move forward with our next segment, let’s review what we’ve covered so far:
But in an economy still reeling from the worst recession in decades, perhaps the greatest indicator of true economic impact is job creation, retention and overall growth. How are museums and other cultural assets affecting the job market? According to the American Alliance of Museums, American museums employ 400,000 people and directly contribute $21 billion to the economy each year. Returning to our MASS MoCA example from a few weeks ago, when Dr. Stephen Sheppard and his team compared the average of number of businesses and jobs the four years before the opening of MASS MoCA to the three years following, North Adams welcomed an increase of 44 new businesses within the city, adding 255 jobs. During those three years, annual payroll increased $17,898,000, and the average salary per employee grew $2,000 (and these figures were not attributed to a confluence of low-wage jobs). So, it would appear at first glance that the museums spur both direct and indirect employment in their communities.
Image: Americans for the Arts
When widening the study pool to include all arts and cultural institutions, the numbers become even more compelling. Recently, Americans for the Arts released a report entitled "Economic Prosperity IV: Economic Impact of the Nonprofit Arts & Culture Industry." This most recent of their four surveys, completed in 2010, includes expenditure data collected from 9,721 arts and culture organizations and 151,802 attendees in 182 study regions. Americans for the Arts used input-output analysis to determine how many times a dollar was re-spent throughout the local economy before it left the community. Because the previous study was completed in 2005, the contrast between the two surveys provides an interesting look at pre- and post-Recession effects. Between 2005 and 2010, unemployment rose from 5.1% to 9.7%, consumer confidence dropped precipitously from 101 to 54, and home foreclosures tripled to 2.9 million, meaning Americans had little money to spare for arts and cultural events.
According to the 2010 results, the arts and culture industry generated $135 billion in economic activity. This figure breaks down to $61.1 billion by the organizations themselves and $74.1 billion in event-related expenditures by audiences. Arts and cultural institutions created 4.13 million full-time equivalent jobs, 2.14 million of which were the result of direct expenditure by the surveyed nonprofit arts organizations, representing .87% of the US workforce (a higher percentage than accountants, auditors, public safety officers, and lawyers). As a result of this income generation, nonprofit arts institutions contributed $22.3 billion in revenue to local, state and federal governments annually. While all of these numbers are impressive, they represent significant decreases from the 2005 survey, indicating that the nonprofit arts and culture industry was hit as hard as everyone else in the Great Recession. Nonetheless, the scale of these figures and the impact of cultural institutions on employment cannot be ignored. But how are creative nonprofits generating this kind of job momentum and what does it mean for entities trying to attract companies and talent?
In his seminal 2002 work The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida asserted that creative professionals were the driving force for economic development in post-industrial cities. Florida, professor and head of the Martin Property Institute at the University of Toronto, divides the creative class into two sub-groups: the Super-Creative Core (scientists, engineers, artists and designers), and creative professionals (classic knowledge-based workers such as educators, lawyers and healthcare professionals). Overall, Florida surmised that the Creative Class comprised 40 million workers in the United States alone, and that these workers drive the economy, and will continue to do so, because of their ability to think creatively and innovate.
In 2012, Florida revisited his theories to see if they held up in a post-recession economy. The book, aptly named The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited, largely supported his assertions of ten years prior. One of Florida’s key concepts from both books was what he called Quality of Place. He asserts that members of the Creative Class are attracted to vibrant cities and places that offer a wide range of amenities and experiences, and that job opportunities have become less of a location attractant. He quotes his colleague Edward Glaeser, Harvard University Professor of Economics, who writes: “The future of most cities depends on their being desirable places for consumers to live. As consumers become richer and firms become mobile, location choices are based as much on their advantages for workers as on their advantages for firms.” Adds Jason Renfrow in his book, The Open City: “It is not just that people sort themselves into places where they can find work… they seek out environments where they can pursue their personal as well as their professional interests.” So what constitutes Quality of Place?
Richard Florida defines Quality of Place in terms of its “territorial assets” – the unique set of characteristics that defines a place and makes it attractive. A city with strong territorial assets easily answers the questions “what’s there,” “who’s there,” and “what’s going on.” Many members of the Creative Class actually want to take part in shaping their community’s quality of place (sounds a little like creative placemaking, doesn’t it?). According to Florida, cultural amenities are a contributing factor to quality of place: “the availability of a wide mix of cultural attractions is the signal that a place ‘gets it’ – that it embraces the culture of the Creative Age.” The arts can also contribute to a place’s authenticity or uniqueness, another attractor for creative professionals.
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This shift to place-based versus occupation-based migration would explain why, as Gabe et al. found in their paper, “The Effects of Workforce Creativity on US Counties,” a negative correlation exists between earnings and the number of museums (and entertainment and recreational facilities) per capita, “suggesting that, all things being equal, individuals will accept lower earnings to be in areas with a relative abundance of museums and other creative assets.” On the flip side, the National Conference on Citizenship found in their study, “Civic Health and Unemployment III: The Case Builds,” the presence of nonprofit organizations in a community has a calming effect on the unemployment rate, in that communities with more non-profits (including arts and culture), had significantly smaller decreases in employment during the great recession. Non-profit cultural institutions are creating employment stability and are making communities attractive to such an extent that creative class workers will accept lower salaries to live there.
As Florida writes, “today where we choose to live as opposed to what we do has become our main element of identity.” Whereas the members of the previous generation might ask you “where do you work,” the Creative Class of the present generation would be more likely to ask, “where do you live?” In his book Stumbling Upon Happiness, economist Daniel Gilbert sums up Florida’s theory thus: “Place is the first leg in the triangle of a happy and fulfilled life.”
So we’ve looked at numbers and discussed theories, but how do these figures and philosophies hold up in practice? Do cultural amenities really attract businesses and talent? Tomorrow, we’ll interview two Cincinnati businesswomen to put Cincinnati’s “territorial assets” to the employment and job creation test.