Friday, April 22, 2005

Speak of the devil...

Reading: An interview at with Richard Florida, who wrote The Flight of the Creative Class, following his first book The Rise of the Creative Class three years ago. The books lay out Florida's theory that the "hot" cities in which to live and work, cities which have strong economic growth are also places with large ethnic and foreign-born populations, as well as large populations of artists, free-thinkers and, in a blow to the conservatives, gay people. He thinks that you can predict which cities are up-and-coming by looking at how welcoming they are to such groups of people, the creative class that he alludes to in his titles. Places like San Francisco and Seattle come out on top on his lists. His new book talks about how the competition for the creative class is now global and, in the interview, he mentions Dublin several times as a strong competitor in the global market for this group of people. So whaddya know? I'm ahead of my time.


Anonymous said...

So what does he mean by flight of the creative class?

I've observed & talked to people who have observed that there's a cyclic nature to creativity-in-residence, at least at the neighborhood level. Creativity, at least in the arts, tends to happen off the beaten path. Artists congregate in some such area (usually on the lower end of the price scale), make it into a hip and attractive scene, which is then invaded by hordes of would-be hipsters, soon followed by frat boys and other yuppie drunks, who somehow manage to drive up the price of local housing, which drives the artists out, so they have to find another place, which they make hip & attractive...and so forth. Witness Fremont in Seattle, which fortunately is still at least artistic, but less vibrant than, say, Capitol Hill (which is on its way to gentrification itself).

Huh, felt like I had something to say, but I guess that's just an observation. Whatever.

Nice bloggin', there, by the way.

Lien said...

Warning: I am playing devil’s advocate in this post, so don’t be focusing your anti-corporate, power-to-the-people, “No Logo” rants at me.

Okay, no one holds the "hipper-than-thou" attitude closer to her heart than I do, but even I have to admit that I and my buddies, however cool they may be, do not an economy make. Nice restaurants don't open in the random depressed neighborhood that you and your nouveau-garage band buddies and their bauhaus-sculptor girlfriends live. Well-funded theatre companies with world-class artistic directors don't work in the little podunk town that you've decided is the perfect base from which to do your retro-psychedelic puppetry.

Unless the would-be hipsters and yuppies settle in your area, then it remains a little podunk town. It doesn't draw any attention from Richard Florida. Obviously, artists, musicians, gay people, choose to settle in many many different places, but only some of those places become bigger and more popular and draw people and jobs. I'm absolutely sure, for instance, that there're a few damn good musicians, and probably some gay ones!, in Manhattan, Kansas, where I'd probably pay peanuts in rent, but I sure as hell am not gonna move there.

To use the language of fads and trends, everyone wants to think they're the innovators, but that's obviously rarely true. The most I could hope for is to be an early adopter, but probably even that's optimistic thinking. I'm really just one of the masses that follow along. But the thing is: you need these mindless masses. They staff your yuppie chain coffee shops. They do odd carpentry work for your hipster theatre workshop. But the money they get from those jobs maybe help fund their own projects. In your hip, pre-gentrification one-horse town, no yuppies means no jobs for these people. And that means Richard Florida doesn’t care.

I haven’t read the book, but I think the creative class that Richard Florida talks about is made up of the early adopters/mindless masses. These people have a bit more money and more options- they can be lured from New York to Barcelona if Barcelona suddenly becomes more inviting. Which means that New York isn’t just competing with other US cities any more- the flight is now to other countries because the competition is global.

Anonymous said...

Devil's advocate or no, your response was a bit more vitriolic than I anticipated. I didn't mean to adopt a hipper-than-thou tone, although my comment about "frat boys and other yuppie drunks" would give that impression, I guess.

Ultimately, I think we are/were talking about two different sets of people, and perhaps two different demographic phenomena. When I read "creative class," I immediately thought of artists. Obviously there are other ways of being creative; please excuse my myopia.

Also, I meant to speak mainly of creating art, and not the consumption of art. Obviously art needs to be consumed, otherwise it doesn't survive. But in this country, these two things are in almost constant opposition. What's good for business is rarely good for art. If you're interested in making money, then okay, Richard Florida might be important (assuming your reading/non-reading is correct). If you're interested in creating an environment in which new creative art can flourish, then he probably isn't.

Incidentally, your last paragraph answered my original question quite nicely, and clarified everything else.