Creating Hybrid (Creative) Communities:
An Economic Development Forum on Housing
October 30, 2009
National Hispanic Cultural Center
Albuquerque, New Mexico
WAV, Historic Downtown Ventura’s $57 million state-of-the-art
green community is designed for creative people and businesses.
The Cultural Economy: How It Impacts Future
Hybrid (Creative) Communities
Today, let us consider three questions before us:
What is the cultural economy?
What are emerging trends in the cultural economy and societal trends that are
related to the Cultural Economy?
How do these trends impact Hybrid Communities/Creative Communities, Housing
and Economic Development?
1. What is the cultural economy?
The Cultural Economy is global and according to UNESCO is growing at a fast pace
of 7% this decade. The common definition of the Cultural Economy includes several
clusters or sectors:
• Artisans • Museums
• Literature: Writers and Publishers • Markets and Festivals
• Visual Arts: Painting, Sculpture, • Architecture
Galleries • Culinary Arts
• Performing Arts: Theater, Dance, Music • Healing Arts
• Film • Education: Higher Ed, Workshops
• Tourism: Cultural, Creative • Media: TV, Newspapers, Radio, Web
• Design: Graphic, Fashion
The Cultural Economy is made up of millions of cultural workers employed in
cultural enterprises both for profit and non profit. These cultural enterprises are
created and driven by cultural entrepreneurs. UNM’s Bureau of Business and
Economic Research reported that the economic impact of the arts and cultural
industries in Santa Fe, accounted for 19% of the local Gross Domestic Product. And
over 18% of city taxes are generated by the city and cultural industries. Cultural
expenditures in the city were rewarded with five times the income in tax receipts.
Cultural industries employment was 18% of the labor force. Most importantly we
discovered that 38% of all new capital flowing into the local economy was driven by
the arts and cultural industries. Nationally, the cultural workforce makes up 3-5%
all of employment. Obviously places like Santa Fe, Silver City and Albuquerque
have important cultural economies.
The Cultural Economy, The Cultures and
There have been numerous studies that measure the impact of the cultural sector in
cities like Los Angeles and St. Paul and the New England region.
Cultural Investment produces seven key ROI’s
1. Investment in cultural entrepreneurs and their enterprises creates jobs.
2. Investment in cultural industries creates tax revenues, often beyond
3. Investment in cultural enterprises creates new capital in the community’s
4. Investment in cultural industries creates an attractive community for investment
in other sectors.
5. Investment in culture creates a vibrant community and enhances the quality of
6. Investment in culture creates sustainable cultural enterprises
7. Investment in culture is a catalyst for economic development.
Here are a few examples of the economic impact of investment in the local Cultural
Paducah, Ky. Artist Relocation Program. The city took over houses in a
deteriorating but historic area. They offered the houses for $1 to artists to move to
Paducah, restore the houses into live/work home-studios and live in Paducah. In
less than seven years the city has developed a vibrant cultural economy with over
seventy restored homes.
Miami sought out the Basel Art Fair, partnering with them, and created Art Basel/
Miami held every December. Miami leveraged Basel’s solid brand in the art fair
market and established itself as contemporary art city.
Chattanooga, TN has begun to give incentives to artists who will move to the city.
They recently reported a multi-million dollar impact in their economy because of
this innovative program.
Creative Britain just released a national strategy to build their Creative Economy.
The plan reaches down to the elementary school system where creativity is part of
the new lower grades curriculum, preparing the kids for the future global creative
Gothenburg, Sweden. Brew House, an artist-based incubator, is in a residential
area. It houses 70 film and music cultural enterprises, the two Cultural Economy
clusters they have selected to support.
Bilbao, Spain planned the revival of their old industry economy be investing in
culture and technology. They hired Frank Gehry to build the Guggenheim
Museum and saw 1.2 million visitors in the first year, even though this Basque city
forecasted an increase of cultural visitors of 500,000 (their breakeven point).
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain
Digital Media Production is a community media center in the heart of San Francisco.
2. What are emerging cultural economy and societal trends?
• Cultural Policy is becoming an important strategy in economic development
• Cultural Entrepreneurs are being recognized as the visionaries who create
new cultural enterprises and drive innovation in the economy.
• As we have just seen, cities across the globe are now investing in cultural
facilities, in arts and cultural districts and in artists.
• We are producing more intangible products based on intellectual property;
and copyrights are more important than patents today.
• There is a whole new emphasis on creativity that has yet to be taught in
elementary schools and higher grades.
• New Web-based work is growing rapidly using crowd sourcing, Wiki’s and
new collaborative tools.
• It is estimated that 25% of the workforce will be working from a home office
in the near future.
• By 2015, there will be more people working electronically from home than
taking mass transit to an office.
• There are fewer corporate moves, with people preferring to be near family
than be constantly on the move.
• Social contact is coming from Web-based work, the least of which is Face
• New social congregating places are being developed for the home-based
worker like the The Hub in Berkeley.
• Live/work places are being developed across the country.
• Living rurally is viable again in small communities as long as there is proper
• The new MBA is the MFA.
There are also new housing trends to watch related to the Creative Economy:
The Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco is an international micro-center for
artistic endeavors that focus on and for the neighborhood
Art Space’s work across the country, especially in Buffalo, is demonstrating how
creative public financing and private financing can work for communities.
W A V, Working Artists in Ventura (CA) is an exciting new development near the
ocean, a project made possible by PLACE® .PLACE® is a nonprofit organization
that works with cities to create leading-edge communities that promote the arts,
environmentalism and social justice.
WAV, Historic Downtown Ventura’s $57 million state-of-the-art green community is
designed for creative people and businesses. WAV will provide 54 affordable artist
housing units, 15 supportive housing units, 13 market-rate condominiums, a gallery/theater
space, park space and arts-related commercial space.
3. How do these trends impact Hybrid Communities, Housing and Economic
We must blend the trends of the home-based worker; the emerging creative
workers; the emerging cultural entrepreneur and the new forms of social
In new creative communities we can think about the inclusion of artist centers,
performing spaces, artist residencies such as a writer’s colony, musicians’
residence. Boston’s Redevelopment Agency is focusing on creative communities.
Boston has successful low income artist developments like Artists for Humanity.
Artists For Humanity's mission is to bridge economic,
racial and social divisions by providing underserved
youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid
employment in the arts.
Artists for Humanity is the first Platinum LEED Building in Massachusetts.
• Artists for Humanity built the first LEED platinum building in downtown Boston;
• Represents a model program that brings urban teens together, and offers art
instruction entrepreneurial training, and job opportunity;
• Providing a new model for linking urban teens with economic opportunity in the arts.
We can envision the development of destination cultural investments that enrich the
community and visitors.
We need to create and strengthen cultural entrepreneur programs like Santa Fe’s
Creative Tourism initiative.
Our world of work and living is changing and Hybrid or Creative Communities are
due our serious consideration as we have begun to do today.
Thomas H. Aageson