Last Modified: 4/14/2005
Cultural economic development is a relatively new branch of economic development. Many communities are involved in some aspect of arts and cultural economic development, but there is very little in the way of organized resources for those interested in learning more. One of the primary reasons for including an entry for culturally-based economic development in the handbook was to have a space where artists, community members and economic development practitioners can become more informed about the link between economic development, community development and the cultural arts.
Many people view culturally based economic development as a convergence of community development and economic development. In other words, anything that uses arts or culture to affect change in a given location and also creates new employment opportunities and broadens the tax base.
As described by Neeta Delaney in Cultural Economic Development: A practical Guide for Communities , culturally based economic development is the effect of converging two areas of interest together in an economic development effort which includes the following:
Others define this kind of activity a little more broadly. The Urban Institute, for example, has defined culturally based economic development as “activities intended to promote increased market participation among traditional artists and arts organizations, as well as other arts and cultural organizations, such as historical sites, museums, theaters, and art galleries.”
There is no conventional or standard definition for cultural economic development, but most often it is considered to be economic development activity that emphasizes arts and cultural partners in the planning and implementation of the effort.
WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT CULTURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?
In short, we should care about culturally based economic development because there is some evidence to suggest that strengthening cultural communities creates economic assets that can be harnessed for community growth.
Neeta Delaney, for example, tells us that cultural programs play a part in many aspects of economic development because they:
The more important point is that the one thing we have seen with the emergence of the “creative class” is that fostering relationship between the arts and economic development is not only possible but necessary. Changes in U.S. economic have put arts and culture at the forefront of the characteristics that distinguish place. Cities, communities and economic development agencies need to take account of these advantages as they revise regional economic strategies and design and implement development programs.
Some cities— such as Philadelphia , Pennsylvania ; Charleston , South Carolina ; and Newark , New Jersey —have used the creation of arts districts as centerpieces in efforts to combat crime and suburban flight by restoring vitality to downtown areas. But there are still many cities and communities that have not yet recognized the potential for culturally based economic development.
WHAT ARE SOME STRATEGIES FOR CULTURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?
If you are an artist, community member or economic development practitioner looking for strategies to employ culturally based economic development in your community, here are some links that you might find useful:
In Michigan :
SOURCES AND WEBSITES REFERENCED