Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Arts: Combating an Impoverished View

As urban theorist Anne Markusen documents, the economic impact of the arts and the contribution of creative professions on city and regional economies is often derided as a discretionary element of a city’s industry, finance and basic services.  Interpretations of the arts and artists as well as creative occupations and workers are, in fact, impoverished by an outmoded view of the relationship between city and industry. 

Los Angeles, even as one of the creative capitals of the world, is not immune to this interpretation.  REthink Development’s Cherokee Studios addresses the need to support industries that quietly contribute to what makes Los Angeles a mecca for the arts and green development through example and advocacy. 

Generally, the arts are measured as a contribution to economic impacts for city economies by totaling the dollar amount that patrons spend on performances, restaurants, parking and shopping in and around districts that house cultural facilities and retail shops.  While this is a good first step, it is also inadequate to address the function of a city beyond basic services – to seed vitality through the attraction and retention of residents that may themselves develop vital neighborhoods through their own industry within the urban setting. 

Cherokee & Economy

REthink’s Cherokee Studios is an opportunity to house artists.  As residents, they may distinguish themselves not as a fortunate few star entertainers but as everyday designers of forms and ideas – as material and building designers, internet entrepreneurs, advertising executives and videogame designers to give a few examples.  In this new interpretation, the arts are not a bi-product of or parasite upon business economy.  Instead, the arts community contributes to innovation and economy by machining original ideas.   

Los Angeles will benefit from corralled services as the placement of artists within cultural facilities increases.  Artists enhance the design, production and marketing of products and services in other economic sectors, attract the recruitment of other creative firm employees bolster both local economic base and export production out of the region.

With the development of cultural facilities like Cherokee Studios, creative individuals of various ages are not lost to out-migration.  Cherokee is, instead, a hub of creativity where spillover-effects within creative industry and arts-related economy will originate.  And as artists are attracted to live, work and congregate in and around Cherokee Studios there will be increased incidents of networking, partnership and learning resulting in greater opportunities for artists and creative professionals.

The placement of art and artists within urban settings can combat the idea of the creative industry as a discretionary element of a city services.  With Cherokee Studios, the interpretation of the arts and artists as well as the creative industry is, in fact, enriched.  For, Cherokee Studios within Hollywood will place artists that can compound the effect of creative industries on the local economy and continue to support the interpretation of Los Angeles as an international creative mecca.

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