Thursday 31 January 2013


British Columbia Creativity/Innovation Plan

In May 2012, BCreative convened a conference to consider the development of the creative economy of British Columbia, to build bridges to link the business and  cultural communities, to promote information sharing between the cultural sub-sectors, and to bring forward useful information, analysis, training, and research resources that can assist in building BC’s creative economy.

While the conference revealed a vast array of creative activity in the province, there remains little support from government outside the BC Arts Council, augmented by Community Gaming Grants. Support is relatively low compared to other Canadian provinces.

The creative sector employs an estimated 85,000 people (not including volunteers) making this the second largest of BC’s six major industrial sectors). It generates of $4 billion in economic activity (the fifth largest sector in the BC economy).

The Dreamcatcher Report summarizes the BCreative conference and presents two actions that could help the BC creative economy:  recognition and brand. As part of recognition, cultural subsidies to artistic activity can serve cultural policy and can act as an investment in cultural infrastructure. Branding the BC creative sector would place creativity and innovation in the mainstream mindset and act as long-term, primary, identifying element in BC and its society.

Tuesday 22 January 2013


Culinary team-building in London, UK, is offered by L'Atletier des Chefs 

I have noted over the past year the increasing role food and "foodies" play in the Creative Economy.

Dan Taylor, "The Creative Rural Economy Guy", seems to include food in about 10% of his prolific twitter posts (@Cre8tiveDanT) coming out of Peterborough, Ontario
Culinary team-building is an emerging trend to develop competitive creative thinking skills in groups and businesses, so writes Laura Cole with Business2Community. Creative Chef Kitchens in Derry, NH has built a business incubator for foodies, linking food artists, entrepreneurs and start-ups with economic development. In 2012, the USDA allocated $10 million towards the local food movement, through their Farmers Market Promotion Program. Over $11 million was pledged last year to over 1,800 food start-up projects via Kickstarter in the USA.

Richard Florida, in his book "Rise of the Creative Class: Revisited", tells us in essence that if you can put something on a blank sheet of paper, or blank computer screen, or mold something new out of material or from your body, and exchange that intellectual property for economic gain, you are a creative and you help build the economic well-being of your community. Think about that for awhile. That would include, for example, architects, engineers, mathematicians, doctors, musicians, computer programmers, artists, comedians, playwrights, filmmakers, boat and fashion designers, advertisers, dance choreographers, vintners, and, yes, culinary chefs.

Many community projects use food as a starting point or keystone in economic development in towns such as in Balston, Virginia, and Holyoke, Massachussets, the food trails of Kilkenny, Ireland, and the food clusters of Ontario as described by the Martin Prosperity Institute. Interestingly, Florida found relationships between community economic development and the number of coffee shops. These are meeting places for creatives. The Kitchen Sisters talk about how communities come together through food in the Edible Education Series of lectures from the University of California, Berkeley.

The creative economy is more than visual and performing artists, and technical people. It includes food and the culinary arts. Networking food producers and food consumers via culinary creators forms part of the creative economy. Food creates communities.

What is your creative food story?

Sunday 13 January 2013


YouTube video of "friendly" presentation of Norwalk 2.0 project and survey results, to the beat of the song "Hey Hey Hey" by Sounds of Sunshine Michael Franti & Spearhead Capitol.

This is an inspiring story about a community looking for answers on how to transform their place into a "cool downtown". The story can apply to other communities -- urban and rural.

Norwalk 2.0 is an independent, non-profit start-up operating on a shoestring budget. They asked questions of those who work, play and live in their community -- lots of questions. How do we fill up vacant storefronts? How do we let people know about the creatives who live there? What do we know about ourselves? What do we care about? How do we get the community engaged, including artists and businesses? A 12-question survey was broadcast to members of the community, free, over the internet and on foot, for five months, gathering information.

Cloud image of concerns from "Native Norwalkers"

758 people took the survey. They learned, for example, that 82% of respondents like to dine out. 64% like attending community events such as the Oyster Festival. Interestingly 48% of Norwalk news is spread by word-of-mouth. Wordle was used to visually display issues that most concerned the community. They also used similar "cloud pictures" on population sub-sets such as "native Norwalkers".

Norwalk 2.0's events and projects were often small, innovative, grass-roots, sustainable and community-based. But there were obstacles. First, the group did not neatly fit into any box. They had to build credibility and trust. Norwalk 2.0 learned three lessons for success: leverage technology, engage politicians, and be transparent.

Vacant storefronts are becoming leased. Stakeholders now seek the group out for input to community planning, zoning and creative community development ideas. Developers continue to support the group's events and community building.

I came across this item through the creative place-making initiatives listed with NEFA, the New England Foundation of the Arts website. It is worth a listen and read, and even be part of a presentation on what enthusiasm and community spirit means to the well-being of a community, no matter how big or small.