Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Role of the Innovation Workforce & Creative Sector

On May 1 state senator Florence Shapiro (Plano) and other notables released with ceremony the study The Role of the Innovation Workforce & Creative Sector in the Texas Economy.

Latifah Taormina, executive director of the Austin Circle of Theatres, had advised ACOT members by e-mail, reprising the press release from the Texas Cultural Trust characterizing the study as "a powerful report on value of arts, arts education & creative industries to growth of Texas economy." ACOT commented, "The report demonstrates direct links between creative sector and Texas economy at a time when state leaders are debating: (1) the best way to prepare Texas schoolchildren as the workforce for the future, and (2) state funding of the arts."

ALT has spent some time with the report, which is available at the website of the lobbying campaign Create Texas. It's an easy, generally anecdotal read, one that quotes pop sociology observers such as Richard Florida and Daniel Pink. The drafters from Texas Perspectives, Inc. (TXP) re-chew studies done in their own office and elsewhere, including particularly a 2005 national study by Americans for the Arts and a 2001 compendium issue brief The Role of the Arts in Economic Development: prepared for the National Governor's [sic] Association. These sources offer observations that pretty much all arts lovers will endorse:

  • The arts generate employment, tourism, tax revenues well beyond modest subsidies, better students, mutual understanding and better citizens.
  • Knowledge-based professions and industries tend to cluster in urban areas with lively arts communities.
  • Disadvantaged students benefit disproportionately from participating in arts.
  • America's global comparative advantage is the creativity of its people, a quality that can't be outsourced beyond our boundaries.
  • Arts education enhances that creativity. (In this connection, my favorite quote from this piece: "The number of students obtaining an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) has dramatically increased in recent years, and corporate recruiters now routinely visit the top arts graduate schools in search of talent. The high-concept abilities of an artist are often more valuable than the easily replicated skills of an entry-level business graduate."
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