Exodus of the Creative Class

Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, has a new book out called The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent . In it he apparently argues that the current socio-political climate in the US is going to start to alienate the creative class and they will move to other countries.

I say apparently because I haven’t read the book, but rather an interview with Florida on the Salon website. I am not sure I totally agree with him, but it might be because I read his entire argument a year ago in an article he did for the Washington Monthly. I have the same reservations I had in an entry a year ago.

While I would love to get a job in Wellington and am not such a model of American consumerism that I couldn’t get along just fine without whatever we got that they don’t, I just don’t see myself moving to New Zealand any time soon. (Of course, I never really saw myself moving to Hawaii either.) Nor do I see too many of the best and brightest I know doing so either.

My feelings were echoed last month by Karrie Jacobs in a Metropolis Magazine article, Why I Don’t Love Richard Florida. Like me, Ms. Jacobs doesn’t actually dislike Richard Florida, just the cult that has sprung up around him. She observes that the group he calls the creative class is the same cohort that was called yuppies in the 80s. Young successful cool people are going to want to live in cool neighborhoods no matter what the era.

Florida doesn’t tell anyone anything new by telling them these are the folks you want to attract. Actually, since he touts tolerance of ethnic and sexual differences as necessarily elements of successful creative communities, he is helping the social and economic mobility of a wider range of people than just rebranding yuppies (who you must admit were mostly caucasian).

I also don’t fault him for writing a book that collects easily observable trends and proposes the shaping of policy based on them. One of the things I have noticed in the last 10-15 years is that things that seem to obvious to mention aren’t necessarily so. People who give voice to these observations tend to get labeled geniuses. It’s happened to me much to my incredulous bemusement. I was just too embarassed to exploit the opportunity.

And who can fault him for letting people give him money to give speeches on the subject. I think what Ms. Jacobs and I have both been aiming at is not to let one person’s vision fill your entire horizon.

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 (artshacker.com) 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. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

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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