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.
April 24, 2013
The Mind Museum, Taguig, Philippines
In our second segment on creative placemaking, we visited The High Line, a park that transformed New York’s Chelsea Neighborhood. But how can placemaking be used to create an entirely new business district?
In 1995, the Bonifacio Land Development Corporation (BLDC) started planning an ambitious urban development on the site of the former Fort Andres Bonifacio (named after the Father of the Philippine Revolution against Spain) in Taguig City, Philippines. The land was sold to the BLDC by the Bases Conversation and Development Authority (which still oversees its privatization) and became Bonifacio Global City (BGC), nicknamed “The Home of Passionate Minds.”
Photo courtesy www.fbdcorp.com
BGC has since experienced robust commercial growth, and Filipino and multinational corporations have acquired properties and committed to relocating their headquarters there. Bonifacio Global City Center is the anchor of the development, where the people of BGC can come together for community activities. It calls itself a “modern wonder of contemporary living populated by great minds and passionate hearts” and welcomes “residents and visitors who value quality living and embrace forward thinking as a key to a better life.” According to the Philippine Inquirer Business, “The movements happening in BGC…have captured the Philippine real estate industry’s imagination…there has been a tectonic shift in the local and foreign business sectors’ choice of prime locations.”
More than a third of Bonifacio Global City has been devoted to open, landscaped, strategically distributed parks, which nods to the creative placemaking concept of triangulation we discussed Wednesday. It also includes an artwalk – an unguided tour of a large-scale public art collection created by Filipino artists. This citywide public art program is managed by the Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc. (BAFI), a non-profit organization supported by contributions from BGC property owners.
Photo courtesy The Mind Museum
At the core of Bonifacio Global City Center is the JRA-designed Mind Museum, the first world-class science museum in the Philippines, which hosts over 250 interactive “minds-on” and “hands-on” exhibits. I was lucky enough to chat with Maria Isabel Garcia, Curator of The Mind Museum, and ask her how The Mind Museum and BGC have impacted Taguig, Greater Manila and the Philippines as a whole.
CR – Describe the planning process for Bonifacio Global City in general. How much community input was involved? What were the "must haves" from their perspective?
MG - There was a master plan based on the fact that Bonifacio Global City (BGC) was to be transformed from a military camp. There was no residential community so to speak to consult with at first, but the idea was to build another locus aside from the traditional and established central business district, which was Makati. Makati, the product of a co-developer of BGC, Ayala Land Inc., remains vibrant but was getting congested. Now that about 40,000 residents live in the area, they form part of the association that is regularly consulted and apprised on BGC projects and policies. The major lot owners or "locators" are also actively consulted on the same.
CR – Why was it important to include a science museum as an "anchor" for Bonifacio Global City?
MG – FBDC wanted BGC to be a "city with a soul," and for this, and they wanted this "soul" anchored in the two main traditions – the arts and sciences. "Arts" are prominently represented by public art installations in strategic points in the city, as well as in the parks. For the sciences, they wanted to have a science museum since the country still did not have one.
CR – How many jobs did Mind Museum bring to the area, and what has been the attendance thus far? Do you have any information on either direct (at the museum) or indirect (in the surrounding neighborhood) per capita spending from visitors and/or locals?
MG – We directly employ about 100 people in the museum. From when we formally opened March 16, 2012 through December 31, 2012, we welcomed about 235,000 guests, which is over our 2012 target of 220,000. We do not have figures on per capita spending, but the average ticket price for the museum is P450 (around $12) and each time slot is three hours, which would require them to eat afterwards (maybe another $5/individual). So I would estimate about $17/capita spending including the ticket price. Our plazas are open to free museum events, so we’ve reached thousands of other people through these programs.
Photo courtesy www.fbdcorp.com
CR – Has there been an influx of tourism to Taguig since BCG was developed, and how much of that can be attributed to The Mind Museum?
MG – Yes, BGC is the most prominent area in Taguig, and it is the ONLY major attraction in the city as well as one of the major ones the country's capital. It is also at the highest end of locations.
CR – Have any complementary businesses (restaurants/retail) been developed nearby as a result of the museum?
MG – The nearby restaurant areas have been significantly activated by the presence of the museum, and many cite their proximity to the museum as one of their "plus" features.
CR - Can you quantify (as yet) the total economic impact that the Mind Museum has had on Bonifacio Global City thus far? What about the impact that BGC has had on Taguig/Manila?
MG - BGC is the highest income earner of Taguig, with no other section of the city as a close second. As far as The Mind Museum is concerned, we are the only science museum of this size in the country, so most schools book their field trips with us. Only 46% of these schools come from the capital or the larger metro area. The rest come from other parts of the country and must take long and expensive land, ship or air trips. Students are not a major source of business for establishments like restaurants and shops in BGC, which is very high end. On weekends, that is where we have the families who go to shop after the museum, but this percentage is only about 16% of our guests.
CR – What have been the cultural and/or socioeconomic positives or negatives associated with the development of BGC and the Mind Museum?
MG – They have all been very good so far. BGC is now heralded as a major "city" even if it is not really a "city," as it is within the chartered city of Taguig. ALL the major business establishments, local and global, have either headquarters or major offices in BGC. Even the Philippine Stock Exchange, once divided and located on two cities, is now uniting for the first time in history in a landmark building in BGC.
CR – What makes BGC so unique, and what can other cities learn from its development (both the process and the result)?
MG – BGC is very unique in that it is the only city with a deliberate public arts program and a science museum, both essential in its character as envisioned. It is a city where you can "passionately live, work and play." Its malls are also very unique in the sense that they are outdoors, with ampitheatres and activity areas for artistic performances (impromptu or otherwise), without the "in-your-face merchandising" characterized by most other commercial establishments. Bonifacio Global City recognizes that its denizens and guests are first of all citizens and not consumers. The Mind Museum and public art program are essential components of the overall planning picture.
What we’ve learned from The High Line and The Mind Museum is although arts institutions can positively affect property values and planning, and, as we’ll see in the coming weeks, employment and tourism, they cannot exist in a vacuum. The greatest impact of museums on economic development occurs when museums and complementary organizations “triangulate” within an all-inclusive, locality-specific community plan that also incorporates such things as unique retail, dining, green space, public art, mixed income housing and walkability.
While the impact of museums on housing prices and urban planning is significant, perhaps the greatest indicator of economic growth is job attraction, creation and retention. Do museums create jobs, and foster increased tax revenues? Are neighborhoods with a greater concentration of cultural assets more likely to attract job-generating corporations? And where do entrepreneurs fit in? Do more creative assets equal more start-ups? We’ll attempt to answer these questions and more next week.
April 18, 2013
All High Line photos and video courtesy Friends of the High Line
Yesterday, we introduced the concept of creative placemaking and how the smart planning of cultural assets can mean big financial gains for cities of all sizes. Today and tomorrow, we’ll offer two diverse examples of creative placemaking in motion and how it has affected the surrounding community. First up – Manhattan’s High Line development.
The High Line is a one-mile linear park built on a former spur of New York Central Railroad on Manhattan’s Lower West Side. The original High Line opened to trains in 1934, and the last train (stuffed with frozen turkeys), made its way through this section of rail in the 1980s. It was slated for demolition in the 1990s, but in 1999, two residents of the High Line neighborhood, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, founded The Friends of the High Line to save what they considered to be an asset worthy of preservation. David and Hammond were inspired by the Promenade Plantee in Paris, a 4.7-km, tree-lined parkway following the old Vincennes Railway Line. In a 2011 interview with National Geographic, David explained his motivation: “New Yorkers always dream of finding open space – it’s a fantasy when you live in a studio apartment.”
Promenade Plantee in Paris. Photo courtesy www.promenade-plantee.org
In 2002, New York City passed a resolution in support of the High Line, and, in keeping with the placemaking tenet of incorporating community input, Friends of the High Line held an open design competition for creative suggestions in 2003. The competition, called “Designing the High Line," attracted 720 entrants from 36 countries, and the results were posted in Grand Central Terminal. A year later, Mayor Michael Bloomberg committed $43.3 million to establish the proposed park (the city would go on to invest a total of $115 million), and in 2005 the US Federal Surface Transportation board allowed the City to move most of the rail line from the National Railway System.
The first phase of the park was completed in 2009 and constituted the section from Gansevoort to 20th Street, with the subsequent 2011 expansion extending the park to 30th Street. The entire park includes naturalized planting, including 210 indigenous species inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew on the abandoned railway tracks. The park also includes a concrete plank walkway, a sundeck with wood chaises angled toward the sunset and an amphitheater. It was built with sustainability in mind, including Brazilian hardwood for benches and LED cove lighting. Even the food vendors must be sustainable: according to Friends of the High Line’s website, they must be “good for the people eating the food, good for those who grow it, and good for the land.” The High Line hosts a variety of temporary art and sound installations and has its own curator who commissions art projects of varying scales, directly soliciting proposals from the artists and letting them pick the space. Most importantly, access to The High Line is free.
The Huffington Post offered this evocative description of The High Line at its opening: “it unfolds the city’s buildings like giant sculptures, and presents a stage where the New York of cars and cement is viewed aloft amid soft wood and silenced behind glass.” Indeed, the accolades from the press and public were immediate and effusive. According to The Wall Street Journal, early adopters were so numerous that at times the line of visitors stretched all the way down to the West Side Highway. In their article “All Aboard The High Line,” WSJ particularly praised The High Line for overcoming potential planning pitfalls:
The same issues of dereliction, prohibitive cost, initial real-estate opposition and community doubts that plagued Central Park played out here – and were resolved with the same combination of private initiative, mayoral support, creative legislation, brilliant design and a willingness to risk the unpredictable that underlies all modes of great urban development.
The New York Times agreed, lauding it as “one of the most thoughtful, sensitively designed public spaces built in New York in years…[David and Hammond] have given New Yorkers an invaluable gift.”
The immediate economic impact of The High Line was almost as dramatic as the public praise. By the end of 2009, more than 30 projects were planned or under construction nearby. Attendance hit 2 million visitors in its first ten months and 3.7 million in 2011 alone. Developers reveled in a submarket that did not exist five years previously. According to NYT, at the opening of the second phase, Mayor Bloomburg proclaimed that “preserving The High Line as a public park revitalized a swath of the city and generated $2 billion in private investment surrounding the park.” That economic impact came from an infusion of deluxe apartment buildings, art galleries, restaurants and boutiques, some designed by the likes of Gehry, Nouvel and Denari. It created 8,000 construction jobs and added a total of 12,000 jobs to the area. It also skyrocketed property values: in one building adjacent to The High Line’s lower section, the price of apartments doubled after the park’s opening, reaching $2,000 per square foot. Bloomberg’s $115 million investment turned into big money for the Chelsea neighborhood and has inspired similar reinvestment projects in Chicago, Philadelphia and St. Louis.
New York Magazine attributed the The High Line mania to being the right project at the right time:
It’s also the end-product of a perfect confluence of power forces: radical dreaming, dogged optimism, neighborhood anxiety, design mania, real estate opportunism, money, celebrity and power. In other words, it’s a 1.45-mile, 6.7 square-acre, 30-foot high symbol of exactly what it means to be living in New York right now.
But according to the project’s critics, the Chelsea of "right now" has become gentrified, expensive and sterile as a result of The High Line. The New Yorker deemed it “touristy, overpriced and shiny,” and many others derided it as a celebrity pet project. An NYT contributor opined The High Line as a “tourist clogged catwalk and a catalyst for some of the most rapid gentrification in the city’s history…another chapter in the story of New York City’s transformation into Disney World.” He then went on to offer several examples of decades-old businesses that have had to shutter their doors in the face of the meteoric rent increases spawned by The High Line, and said the park was “destroying neighborhoods as it grows” and “doing it by design.” According to Markusen and Gadwa’s Creative Placemaking, which we covered in our last post, one of the greatest challenges in placemaking is avoiding displacement and gentrification, and it appears on the surface that, while the transformative economic impact of Tcannot be ignored, neither can its social consequences.
At least to co-creator, Roger Hammond, the benefits of seeing something on those abandoned railroad tracks has outweighed the costs. In the 2011 Nat Geo interview, Hammond said he thought he would miss the way it was, a secret hideaway reserved for those adventurous enough to go looking for it. But “The High Line’s overwhelming success…has given him a satisfaction far beyond the pleasures of seeing the old steel structure empty.”
Next week, we’ll travel across the world to Taguig, Philippines, where we’ll investigate how The Mind Museum and surrounding Bonifacio development are re-shaping the city, before offering some final thoughts on the impact of cultural institutions on creative placemaking.
April 03, 2013
The original 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville. Photo by Kenneth Hayden courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels
Welcome back to our series on “The Business of Culture: The Impact of Museums on Economic Development.” In our last post, we examined the correlation between the introduction or renovation of a museum into a neighborhood and residential property values. Today we’ll examine a hotel concept that is using culture to “cut through the clutter” and differentiate from other offerings – with very successful results.
In 2000, native Kentuckians and art enthusiasts Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson wanted to engage the public with contemporary art in a new way and to contribute to the revitalization of Downtown Louisville. Their solution was 21c Museum Hotel, a hotel that houses a free contemporary art museum open to the public 24/7. Located in a series of previously empty 19th century buildings, the 90-room 21c Louisville opened in 2006. By 2009, the boutique hotel was ranked #1 in the US in Conde Nast Travelers’ Readers Choice Awards, beating out such luxury brands as Mandarin Oriental and Ritz Carlton, and it returned to the top spot in 2010. In 2012, the concept expanded to Downtown Cincinnati, in a renovated Neo-Classical revival style building adjacent to the city’s Contemporary Arts Center (and, lucky for us, right around the corner from JRA). New locations are planned for Bentonville, Arkansas, Lexington, Kentucky and Durham, North Carolina in the next few years. All feature the same museum concept (the 21c Cincinnati museum is 8,000 square feet) with work from both local and internationally acclaimed artists.
Photo by Josh Minogue courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels
Stephanie Greene, 21c Public Relations Manager of 21c, and Gerry Link, General Manager for 21c Cincinnati, were kind enough to answer a few questions about why guests and non-guests alike have been drawn to this cultural experience and what the success of these hotels has meant to their surrounding neighborhoods.
Lobby at 21c Louisville. Photo by Magnus Lindqvist courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels
CR: Why was 2006 the right time for a concept like 21c? Why do you think the press and guests have embraced it so readily?
SG: In 2006 Louisville’s Mayor was working on a revitalization master plan for downtown, which at the time had a lot of empty buildings. Laura Lee and Steve opened 21c to support these efforts, turning four empty buildings into the hotel, museum and restaurant. What they did not anticipate was that the property would become a bustling cultural center, too. We believe (and hear from our Market Metrix scores) that people are responding to the experience of staying at 21c, to that interaction of contemporary art with great architecture, comfortable rooms and genuine hospitality.
CR: Was there a subsequent rise in development around 21c in Louisville after its opening (i.e., restaurants and retail)?
SG: There absolutely is more development around 21c than when we opened in 2006, and this is a result of a number of factors, including the city’s redevelopment push and the fact that something new (21c) opened on that corner that brought people to the area to see art, eat at the restaurant, stay at the hotel and participate in our cultural programming.
We don’t keep data on the direct impact of 21c on increases in per cap room nights or tourism spending in Louisville as a whole, but anecdotally, the foot traffic on our block is markedly different, and our parking garage is full. We can point to financial success, our occupancy rate, our increasing room rates and our accolades from national travel and art experts, but the fact that 21c has opened two additional properties and announced two more is probably the biggest indicator of the concept’s success.
21c Cincinnati. Photo courtesy 21c Museum Hotels
CR: Gerry, has the Cincinnati location met or exceeded your expectations?
GL: The community has been incredibly welcoming, and our location couldn’t be better. There is great synergy and even more offerings for people seeking arts and culture experiences in Cincinnati.
CR: How many guests and non-guests have taken your docent-led tours thus far?
GL: The tours have been well received. In addition to our regularly-scheduled tours, we have received schools, organizations and other arts-related groups in for guided tours. Yoga with Art on Sunday also has a great following [and has been highly praised by friends of this blogger].
CR: What do you feel has been the biggest draw to 21c Cincinnati thus far – the restaurant, the museum, the rooms or the location?
GL: I think the art really draws people in and our goal is to have the hospitality and other amenities (such as the Metropole restaurant’s fantastic food) draw them back.
21c Louisville. Photo by Magnus Lindqvist courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels
CR: What is the role of museums and other cultural institutions in economic development? How can cities best capitalize on its impact?
SG: One of the examples co-founder Steve Wilson cites again and again is Bilbao. He truly believes in art as an economic driver. Here’s an excerpt from a speech he gave at a GLI conference:
Before 2000, Bilbao was a small, unknown industrial town in the south of Spain. It’s about the size of Louisville and also on a river. A place where young people were either on the streets, or if ambitious enough, leaving for opportunities elsewhere.
With a completely unheard of partnership between the Guggenheim Museum in California and the Basque regional government, the town returned from the dead. It’s now a city with new hotels, restaurants, taxis, train stations an a fabulous new airport…It created 4,415 jobs and an economic impact of 168 million euros a year. There isn’t anything about life that hasn’t been transformed by that museum.
So back home in Louisville, we decided we wanted to share our art collection with the public in an unconventional way. We wanted a casual, easily accessible space so people could walk in right off the street and enjoy art…or not. And we thought it could be important to our city to locate our project downtown. We wanted to help revitalize our Main Street.
As evidenced by the 21c story, increasingly, governments, private developers and concerned citizens are seeing cultural institutions and free public gathering spaces as the catalysts for urban renaissance. This philosophy is part of a concept called “creative placemaking,” which we’ll explore in our next segment of "The Business of Culture: The Impact of Museums on Economic Development.”