Lecture by Ann Markusen: “The Artistic Dividend” Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2 pm

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Ann Markusen, Economist
Also read her longer essay on this topic here.

“The Artistic Dividend: Urban Artistic Specialization and Economic Development In Recessionary Times”

Tuesday, November 10th, 2:00-4:00pm
Wosk Centre for Dialogue, 580 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
Room 370 – HSBC Executive Meeting Room
Free, but you must RSVP to cmnscpcc@sfu.ca or 778-782-7978

Over the past two decades, urban and regional policy-makers have increasingly looked to the arts and culture as an economic panacea, especially for the older urban core. The arts’ regional economic contribution is generally measured by totaling the revenue of larger arts organisations, associated expenditures by patrons and multiplier effects. This approach underestimates the contributions of creative artists to a regional economy, because of high rates of self-employment and direct export activity, because artists’ work enhances the design, production and marketing of products and services in other sectors and because artists induce innovation on the part of suppliers. This talk takes a labour-centred view of the arts economy, hypothesising that many artists choose a locale in which to work, often without regard to particular employers but in response to a nurturing artistic and patron community, amenities and affordable cost of living. It is concluded that artists comprise a relatively footloose group that can serve as a target of regional and local economic development policy. Dr. Markusen outlines the components of such a policy.  This salon discussion will be of particular interest to policy makers, arts managers and advocates who are struggling to make the case for arts and cultural investment after the “crunch” of the recent BC budget cuts.

Ann Markusen, professor, is the director of the Institute’s Project on Regional and Industrial Economics. Currently, her research focuses on occupational approaches to regional development and on artists and cultural activity as regional economic stimulants.  Before joining the Humphrey Institute, Markusen was State of New Jersey Professor of Urban Planning and Policy Development at Rutgers University. She has held faculty positions at Northwestern, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Colorado. Markusen has been an economic policy fellow with the Brookings Institution and a research economist with the office of the Michigan Speaker of the House. She was a Fulbright Lecturer in regional development economics in Brazil and has written on European, Korean, and Japanese regional economies as well as on North American cities and regions. From 1995 to 2002, she served as a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and in 2002, as a Visiting Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. Currently Markusen is serving as the Harvey Perloff Chair in the Urban Studies Department at UCLA and A. D. White Professor-at-large at Cornell University.

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5 responses to “Lecture by Ann Markusen: “The Artistic Dividend” Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2 pm

  1. This sounds fantastic. Is there a cost to attend?

  2. CPSCC sent out a paper of hers recently – I read it, and enjoyed the lateral concepts she laid out for consideration. West coasters, enjoy!

  3. We attended the talk and in some ways it was disappointing. Markusen’s “mezzoeconomics” tools are a vast improvement over previous ways of understanding the completely unique manner in which arts operate in local and national economies, and they give a much clearer picture of how important the role of the arts is. Where I think her argument falls down is in the failure to introduce any qualititative research or criteria into her purely quantitative methodology. Yes, we’re dealing with econometrics here, but if the goal is to understand the unique and unusual behaviour of the arts within an economy, perhaps that can’t be done without engaging qualitative data. In her method art is studied as a commodity like any other, measured (even if differently measured) in units of production or activity. However, this doesn’t help in terms of deciding upon methods of art funding, whether via the market, via non-profit fundraising, or via public money. And it’s just not how art works. Market forces, for instance, can produce a very different kind of art and artistic process (both individual and community) than art that is produced via non-profit or public funding. Much of the art that BC produces, famous worldwide, was hatched in a non-market-driven framework of experimentation and critical thinking that is not necessarily consistent with the profit motive, and yet, once those artists reach renown thanks to the integrity of their work, they do extremely well for BC economically, bringing in euros and USD and employing untold others. Markusen, an American, doesn’t really understand public funding, either in terms of its economic benefits nor in terms of artistic substance, despite being the farthest thing from a Republican. This is unsurprising but perhaps the American viewpoint will change thanks to the recent failures of the torn velvet glove of the market, and as the US begins to look at a different model that includes publicly funded infrastructure projects.

  4. Thank you for both promoting the content of the event and your interesting reflection. I make your blog a regular part of my week. Keep up the good work.

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