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Creative Cities: The Warhol Economy


Is there a role for creativity in urban centers? Why should we care? ... Now it's if Lindsey Lohan wears your dress' Cynthia Rowley, fashion designer ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Creative Cities: The Warhol Economy

Creative Cities The Warhol Economy
  • Elizabeth Currid
  • University of Southern California

Some basic questions
  • Is there a role for creativity in urban centers?
  • Why should we care?
  • If it matters, how does creativity work in

First, art and culture matter.
  • 4th Largest Employer in NYC and LA (2000 Census)
  • 3rd Largest Employer in London (Arts Council of
  • Most represented of all industries in NYC and LA
  • 21 billion impact on New York Citys economy.
  • 50-60 billion annually in revenues for Londons
  • Cultural industries were responsible for 1 in 4
    jobs in London from 1995-2000
  • Source Bureau of Labor Statistics, Alliance from
    the Arts, NYC, Arts Council of England and GLA

The creative industries Art, culture and media
(Location Quotient)
  • Occupation NYC Boston SF LA
  • Fashion Designers 15.98 0.00 2.01 4.78 0.43
  • Fine Artists 4.98 3.39 2.01 1.47 1.59
  • Musicians and Singers 6.79 0.97 3.19 3.41 1.18
  • Art Directors 4.90 1.98 2.96 1.83 1.70
  • Writers and Authors 2.89 1.48 2.10 2.98 0.00
  • Film and Video Editors 6.09 1.44 1.75 8.79 0.57
  • Producers and Directors 4.15 0.00 2.46 6.21 0.69
  • Overall Creative LQ 4.48 1.30 2.09 3.26 1.12

Data and methods
  • Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data
  • Participant observation
  • 80 semi-structured, open-ended qualitative
    interviews with New York City-based cultural
    producers and those who work in cultural
  • Cultural producers fashion designers, artists,
    musicians, graphic designers, graffiti artists
  • Gatekeepers Curators, gallery owners,
    fashion/art critics, editors, nightclub and
    entertainment venue owners

The social milieu
  • One night these dudes invited me out for drinks.
    I didnt
  • want to go, then I said to myself go, so
    youre in their
  • sites, thats business for me but its fun
    Ricky Powell, photographer
  • Three types of social milieu that facilitate
    the cultural economy
  • Nightlife
  • Industry Events
  • In situ interactions Spatial Proximity

The importance of the scene
  • Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Tim Buckley, at Max's
    Kansas City, NYC, 1968.

The social milieu
  • Cultural producers use their social lives for
    career mobilization (sometimes consciously,
    sometimes not)
  • The social milieu offers the perpetual
    possibility to advance their careers
  • In this respect, cultural producers expressed
    ambivalence towards their social lives.

Social mechanisms
The clustering of cultural industries and their
accompanying workers indirectly facilitates (via
the milieu) three types of micro-social
  • Networking and weak ties (Granovetter 1972)
  • Crossover between interlocking art worlds
    (Becker 1982)
  • Transaction costs

I. Networking
The concentration of labor pools, firms,
gatekeepers allows for an efficient and
instantaneous means of mobilizing people around
  • Getting a job use of weak ties
  • Access to gatekeepers
  • Assessing taste in a highly uncertain
    environment (Hirsch 1972)

Networking Getting a job
  • I was out on a date three weeks ago, I was
    really bored. I went to get another drink and
    ran into someone from Creative Time a public art
    organization and he put me in touch with a music
    house, a place I was going to contact. I got in
    touch with them and now I am going to send a
    demo.Where you socialize, your social life
    completely determines your worklife and vice
    versaWe all go to the same places after a
    gallery opening, we go to the artists dinner
    etc.. a DJ

Networking Access to gatekeepers
  • Artists go to shows to meet people who write
    about art, meet them again and again at gallery
    openings and shows, pretty soon call them up and
    invite them to their show. artist
  • I was really hoping Jeffery Deitch would be here
    tonight so that I could talk to him about my
    upcoming show. - artist

NetworkingAccessing taste, observing fads
and fashions
  • A lot of designers were coming to our
    neighborhood Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Hedi
    Slimane at Dior, Dolce and Gabanna, John Galliano
    would come to look at the crowd and dancecatch
    the vibe, because thats their job, to see whats
    going on in the air Larry T, DJ

II. Interlocking art worlds
Agglomeration allows cultural industries to
constantly engage each other across separate
fields resulting in new combinations of jobs,
products and evaluation.
  • Three approaches
  • Flexible career paths
  • Symbiotic peer review
  • New forms of cultural goods (Hebdige 1979)

Art worldsFlexible career paths
Just did a billboard on the LES. Not graffiti
but since Ive mastered graffiti, I can do
commercial jobsIt was a 5000 job so that will
hold me down for a couple of months Meres,
graffiti artist
  • Cultural producers establish career trajectories
    outside of their primary industry. Three
  • Add art to nonartistic industries
  • Use artistic skills to contribute to other
    cultural industries
  • Credibility in one industry transferred to
  • I make a living just being the Claw Claw,
    graffiti artist
  • (e.g. Graffiti artists design sneakers for Nike,
    hip-hop artists establish clothing lines)

Flexible career pathAndre the Giant has a posse
  • Shepard Faireys graffiti art has turned into a
    major clothing, design and music conglomerate

Art worldsSymbiotic peer review
  • It used to be the real fashion press that makes
    or breaks your career. Now its if Lindsey Lohan
    wears your dress Cynthia Rowley, fashion
  • Established and successful cultural producers
    often act as gatekeepers in defining what good
    art is
  • Occurs across industries (e.g. Marc Jacobs as
    fashion designer and purveyor of cool music)

Art worldsCultural referencing
  • Cultural borrowing and referencing of various
    different industries to generate new products
  • Subculture transformed into mainstream

III. Transaction costs
  • When I lived in San Diego and I would bring my
    stuff to New York, no one would ever call. Its
    so much by chance, by running into people.Its
    quick when people need things they pick up the
    phone and call but so much is just instantaneous
    and they need it now and its just too much
    work to contact that guy in San Diego.They may
    have the sincerest effort to call me but why
    would they when they can just find someone on the
    street? graphic designer

Transaction costs Less trouble is less trouble
  • While it is only a small amount of trouble to
    call that guy in San Diego theyre not going to
    do it
  • Its not even necessarily an active choice to
    pick someone in New York, but by virtue of being
    there, in situ, these exchanges occur and are
    by extension easier than making an effort even
    a small one

Transaction costs
  • The chances of a SPIN a music-oriented
    magazine writer being at a show in Kansas City
    is unlikely but here he could be out with his
    friends, not even working, and you can be heard
    by him. The chances of being seen by the right
    people is much higher. musician
  • Cultural industries rely on spontaneous ad hoc
    project networks that involve a dense and diverse
    network of firms and labor pools that can
    constantly combine, recombine, connect and
  • Being in the same place optimizes these dynamics.
    Its just that much easier if the labor pool is
    instantly available

Why place (and thus policy) matters
  • These mechanisms are unique to the clustering
    of firms and labor pools in the same place.
  • Exactly the same person with exactly the same
    skills would have dramatically different (and
    limited) opportunities if located somewhere else
  • The mechanisms reinforce themselves More
    people, more firms ? more potential for
    networking, cross-fertilization less transaction
  • These are the dynamics that build place-based
    cultural reputation (New York fashion, London
    artists, Hollywood films)

Policy through practice Creating the places
where art and culture happen
1. Cultural industries matter to urban economies
  • Should be supported as much as other industries
  • Place is branded by the cultural production that
    occurs there and benefits from this association
    (e.g. tourism, attracting more of the same firms,
    talent etc.)

2. Reconsidering how the arts are funded and
  • To support the arts, lets start with supporting
    the artists themselves.
  • While the formal art world is important, many of
    the important interactions within the cultural
    economy occur in the informal milieu and across
    various sub-sectors.

3. Place is the crucial node where it all happens
  • Through zoning and housing subsidies,
    policymakers can encourage the agglomeration that
    encourages the dynamics associated with
    successful cultural centers.

4. Too much of a good thingEconomic developers
as anti-gentrifiers
  • Preventing certain types of growth that push out
    cultural producers.
  • Proactive responses to the Soho effect or the
    Hoxton effect.