Tag Archives: creative economy

Creative Economy Central: UMass Lowell

From the UMass Lowell Public Affairs Office:

UMass Lowell strengthened its reputation as a hot-spot for creative economy research in the state when all of its proposals seeking funding from the UMass President’s Creative Economy Initiative were approved this spring.

Faculty from UMass Lowell scored big in the 2011 round of Creative Economy Initiative grants from the UMass President’s Office, collecting seven of the 10 grants awarded systemwide for a total of $182,900 in project support. 

Read the complete article here.

Diana Archibald

English Dept. Associate Prof. Diana Archibald’s 2012 Charles Dickens exhibition and events will be partially funded through the UMass President’s Office’s Creative Economy Initiative.

Management's Yi Yang

College of Management Asst. Prof. Yi Yang’s project will help entrepreneurs use online resources in their business plans.

Lowell Arts Anthology for Younger Creators

Bootstrap Productions and the Cultural Organization of Lowell have teamed up to produce an anthology of creative work by younger artists in Lowell: writers, musicians, visual artists, and others. The publication is set for release later this year. If you are (or know of) a creator no more than 40 years old, and you want to be considered for inclusion in this innovative anthology, visit the Bootstrap Productions website for details on submitting work and the project as a whole. The deadline for submission of work is June 14.

Uncle Dave Talks About Talent

NYTimes columnist David Brooks today says it’s imperative that 21st-century America be a talent magnet to stay at the front of the pack in the global economic and social long-distance race. For our purposes on this blog, substitute Lowell and/or Merrimack Valley every time he mentions America, and think about what kind of city and region we need to be to offer the kind of quality of life that people want.

Read Brook’s column here, and get the NYT if you want more.

Standing on my Creativity soapbox, let me share this nugget from his column today:

The new sort of competition is all about charisma. It’s about gathering talent in one spot (in the information economy, geography matters more than ever because people are most creative when they collaborate face to face). This concentration of talent then attracts more talent, which creates more collaboration, which multiplies everybody’s skills, which attracts more talent and so on.

The nation with the most diverse creative hot spots will dominate the century.

Hot Art Market in Lowell; Creative Economy Shows Strength

LZ Nunn of the City’s Office of Cultural Affairs and Special Events reports that the art market in Lowell is surprisingly strong even as the Great Recession holds back the economy in general. Lowell has hundreds of artists of all kinds. Each one is a small business even if that’s not how people always think of artists. Whether it is Steve O’Connor selling a book of short stories, Tom Gill or Pamela Wamala selling a painting, or Bob Martin selling a music CD, the cultural producers are the foundation of the creative economy and broad regional economy.

LZ says that Maxine Farkas of Western Avenue Studios counted 1,900 visitors or customers at WAS last weekend. The artists, according to Maxine, have had the best sales month ever, reaching almost $40,000 in sales.

web photo courtesy of wrenandrosestudio.com

At the Brush Gallery & Studios in Market Mills, Eileen Byrne told LZ, “We did unbelievably well. We had great sales of original paintings….” In one weekend, The Brush had $6,800 in sales.

In its new gallery at 22 Shattuck Street (former Revolving Museum), the Arts League of Lowell also did very well over the weekend, says LZ.

Add to this the increased cinema activity generated by “The Fighter” and recent ticketed performance and sports events at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre, and you get a picture of a vital arts and entertainment sector in Lowell and Greater Lowell.

Why a Kerouac Center for Creativity?

Creativity isn’t confined to the arts. The arts are a proven means to cultivate creativity, but the creative impulse shows up everywhere in life—and we need it across all disciplines. The city of Lowell is here because someone imagined industry on a larger scale. People moved here because they imagined a better life for themselves than where they started. Creativity is making something new or doing something a new way, whether it is a spontaneous prose true-story novel or a pocket-sized machine that holds thousands of song recordings. When the topic is the economy, creativity keeps popping up as the key ingredient to making America competitive again.  Here’s what Thomas Friedman had to say about it this week in the NYTimes (the bold emphasis is mine)—PM:

Democratic Pollster Stan Greenberg told me that when he does focus groups today this is what he hears: “People think the country is in trouble and that countries like China have a strategy for success and we don’t. They will follow someone who convinces them that they have a plan to make America great again. That is what they want to hear. It cuts across Republicans and Democrats.”

To me, that is a plan that starts by asking: what is America’s core competency and strategic advantage, and how do we nurture it? Answer: It is our ability to attract, develop and unleash creative talent. That means men and women who invent, build and sell more goods and services that make people’s lives more productive, healthy, comfortable, secure and entertained than any other country. [I would add "meaningful" to this list---PM].

Leadership today is about how the U.S. government attracts and educates more of that talent and then enacts the laws, regulations and budgets that empower that talent to take its products and services to scale, sell them around the world — and create good jobs here in the process. Without that, we can’t afford the health care or defense we need.

Lowell Creative Economy Census

I grabbed this from the City Manager’s website.  My definition of the creative economy is broader than some other people’s. This survey is aimed particularly at the cultural community because COOL wants to document that sector as thoroughly as possible. But if you consider yourself part of the creative-innovative-imaginative sector, you should take part in the census. We might be surprised by the results. Here’s the news from the City Manager and COOL:—PM

This  fall, The Cultural Organization of Lowell (COOL) will launch the City’s first-ever Creative Economy Census. All working artists, creative businesses, cultural organizations, and contributors to the City’s creative industry are invited to make themselves count by filling out a brief survey which will be available online and in paper format from Friday, October 1 – Friday, November 5. To promote visibility of the Census and to encourage community participation, an informational kick-off event will take place at Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus, 67 Market Street, on Thursday, October 14, from 6:30 – 8 p.m.  

Aimed specifically at Lowell’s growing arts community, the Creative Economy Census will collect data that will enable COOL and the City of Lowell to track the impact of creative sector businesses in the local economy.  Additionally, key outcomes of the project include increasing visibility of Lowell’s arts and culture sector  with regard to economic development and planning, and, generating ideas for workshop and assistance programs that will improve, strengthen, and support local artists and creative entrepreneurs.

“The City of Lowell has experienced a marked growth in its creative and cultural sectors,” said Lowell’s City Manager Bernie Lynch. “The Creative Economy Census will not only help us implement programs to support our arts community, but will also lay the foundation for benchmarking the rise of our creative sector. We’re extremely proud to be launching this groundbreaking effort.”

Another way Census data will benefit the arts community is through the development of a creative industry database which will house contact information for the City’s artists and creative entrepreneurs. By connecting artist-to-artist and artist-to-consumer, the database will help facilitate networking opportunities, inform the creative community of news and opportunities, and connect sellers and service providers with those seeking creative goods or services. An optional “opt in” to the database will be available in both the online and paper-based Census formats. 

The Creative Economy Census will be available online starting Friday, October 1, at the project’s website, www.CountMeInLowell.org. Pick-up and drop-off locations for the paper-based censuses will include local art galleries and select city-wide locations. All locations will be listed on the project website.

For more information, please visit www.CountMeInLowell.org or contact Suzzanne Cromwell at 978-674-1483 or scromwell@lowellma.gov.

Creative Economy Thought for the Week

Following is a quote from a former director of Canada’s national arts agency. I would differ slightly in saying what he did because artists don’t have a monopoly on dreaming or creativity. Engineers, scientists, teachers, nurses, detectives, parents, soldiers, public administrators—people in all positions in life, old and young, are capable of dreaming or being creative and they do so every day. Imagination, innovation, ingenuity, and invention are other terms for creative activity. We do need to cultivate creativity, recognize its value, and honor it when it produces good results. In emphasizing and encouraging creativity artists can be leaders because they are so comfortable in the creativity zone. Creativity is a byproduct of freedom, of liberty.—PM


You don’t go into the arts if you’re pessimistic. I used to visit a lot of schools. I’d always tell the kids that there would be no planes today if there hadn’t been somebody, somewhere, who was dreaming of flying. It always starts with a dream. And artists are the ones who are dreaming. We need dreams—in the arts, in business and politics. Because dreams are vision, and people need a vision.”

—Roch Carrier, author, former director of the Canada Arts Council (interview with Maclean’s magazine, 1996)

‘Creative Challenge Index’ News from Hunter Higgs, LLC

“Dear Friends,
“Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to adopt the Creative Challenge Index proposal – an initiative to raise the priority of creative work in our schools – when Governor Deval Patrick signed the Economic Development Reorganization bill into law this morning. We thank Governor Patrick for his support and leadership on the critical issue of developing creativity in our students. We also thank Senate President Therese Murray and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo for their leadership in recognizing the importance of creative work in our schools. The Creative Challenge Index received substantial support in the House and the Senate, including 59 co-sponsors.  We thank everyone who contributed to moving the bill forward, including the thousands of advocates across Massachusetts. The Creative Challenge Index will enhance creativity by establishing incentive for schools to implement the core curriculum frameworks that support creative thinking.  It will help to raise the priority of teaching valuable 21st century creative skills to our children, and will provide a measurement to hold our schools accountable. Creativity and innovation must be Massachusetts priorities – in our schools and in our businesses.  This year, Massachusetts has the opportunity to advance the teaching of creative skills by becoming the first state in the nation to adopt the Creative Challenge Index. Our thanks again to everyone who has advocated for this important initiative.

“To read more about the Creative Challenge Index, please visit our new website for more information:  http://www.hunterhiggs.com.  Sincerely,

Dan & Hathalee, Hunter Higgs, LLC
14 Beacon Street, Suite 103
Boston, MA 02108

Thoughts on Creativity

Why are we starting to talk about a Kerouac Center for Creativity in Lowell? Aside from the facts that Lowell was founded by inventors and entrepreneurs, that the city is a contemporary hub of the creative economy, and that higher education institutions like UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College demonstrate the positive results of innovation and imagination (creativity by other names), see what others are saying about the importance of creativity.—PM

We live in an age when the most valuable asset any economy can have is the ability to be creative — to spark and imagine new ideas, be they Broadway tunes, great books, iPads or new cancer drugs. And where does creativity come from?

I like the way Newsweek described it in a recent essay on creativity: “To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).”

And where does divergent thinking come from? It comes from being exposed to divergent ideas and cultures and people and intellectual disciplines. As Marc Tucker, the president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, once put it to me: “One thing we know about creativity is that it typically occurs when people who have mastered two or more quite different fields use the framework in one to think afresh about the other. Intuitively, you know this is true. Leonardo da Vinci was a great artist, scientist and inventor, and each specialty nourished the other. He was a great lateral thinker. But if you spend your whole life in one silo, you will never have either the knowledge or mental agility to do the synthesis, connect the dots, which is usually where the next great breakthrough is found.”

—Thomas L. Friedman, NYT, today

Read the complete column here, and consider buying a copy of the NYT if you like the writing.

Read the recent (July 10) Newsweek essay on “The Creativity Crisis” here, and look for Newsweek on the newsstand if you appreciate the writing.

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties. … Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born every day; to feel a sense of self.”
—Erich Fromm (German-born American social philosopher and psychoanalyst, 1900-1980)