Thursday, February 7, 2008

"The Rise of the Creative Class"

Doing my gallery hop today, I found out that I'd just missed one of the most inspirational speakers that's come through New Brunswick. Last night Dr. Richard Florida gave a speech at Mount Allison University about how the artistic community is essential for building a healthy economy in our towns and cities. What qualifies him as a great inspiration in my mind the first time I read him, is not that he speaks passionately about a topic I already agreed with. It seemed to me that artists that contributed to the financial prosperity of their community were in the minority. The fact that he had me thinking in a new and interesting direction is what qualifies him as so stimulating, besides the fact that he presents his case with passion.
I'd always seen the arts as a "quality of life issue" and they were of great importance to me, but to explain the benefits to any non-artsy people was difficult. The whole "quality of life" thing was a little too vague and came across to them as a type of social charity. Dr. Richard Florida, however, makes a powerful argument as to the economic benefits creative people and "quality of place" bring to a city. One point from his book The Rise of the Creative Class is that forward thinking businesses, corporations, suburbs and cities alike are now paying attention to quality of place and "are doing so for hard-nosed economic reasons- to attract the talented people and thus the companies that power growth in today's economy."
I was unreasonably resentful for having missed the lecture though. I had an engagement booked, which I missed because I was sick. Even if I had known about it, I wouldn't have been able to go.
I was thrilled with Amber Lounder's exhibit. Not only was it very good, but I felt happy after seeing it. There were some very powerful emotions in the pieces. I felt that one of the subjects radiated empowerment. My favorite was the self-portrait of Amber curled up on the sofa with a book. The colors are so unexpected. The technique she has for applying the paint is masterful, making a variety of dreamy textures. It made me feel cosy, pleased, and content.

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