Binding of Art and Science

Some positive movements lately on the job search front kept me from posting yesterday. We will see what develops.

I came across an essay by John Eger titled “The Future of Work in the Creative Age.” It sort of added another piece to the puzzle of how to attain Richard Florida’s creative communities. In a time where outsourcing fears cause anxiety about one’s job future, Eger says the US should focus its efforts on cultivating creativity.

Many, like the Nomura Research Institute, argue that the stage is set for the advance of the “Creative Age,” a period in which America should once again thrive and prosper because of our tolerance for dissent, respect for individual enterprise, freedom of expression and recognition that innovation is the driving force for the U.S. economy, not mass production of low value goods and services.

Today, the demand for creativity has outpaced our nation’s ability to create enough workers simply to meet our needs. Seven years ago, for example, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers asked the governor of California to “declare a state of emergency” to help Hollywood find digital artists. There were people aplenty who were computer literate, they claimed, but could not draw. In the New Economy, they argued, such talents are vital to all industries dependent on the marriage of computers and telecommunications.

He goes on to mention a couple schools which are rearranging their cirriculum to integrate an arts focus. He also quotes HP CEO Carly Fiorina as saying soon pools of skilled creatives will replace tax incentives and infrastructure as the elements which entice industry to a locality.

He suggests that divorcing the arts from math and science of the last couple decades has actually been detrimental to America’s ability to compete in these areas. He points out that Einstein played violin, Galileo wrote poetry and Samuel Morse painted portraits. They may not have had the time and talent to become virtuosos in these pursuits, but the implication is that they supplemented the quality of the scientific products of these men.

Unfortunately, the subtle influence of arts upon scientific accomplishment and vice versa is one of those areas that resists precise measurement by standardized testing and other empirical measures. Only after a sustained shift in policy are we likely to realize the benefits of a more holistic education and exposure.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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