Building the Creative Economy From the Ground Up

The importance of the creative economy in economic development is a hot topic these days in the governmental, educational, nonprofit and private sectors. The creative sector is usually defined as professions in science, engineering, education, design and the arts to name just a few. The general approach is that a robust creative sector will help accelerate job growth, foster entrepreneurship, make communities more vibrant and position us to compete in the world economy.

The top down approach

There are a lot of efforts being made to build the creative economy from the “top down” by a variety of educational, nonprofit and governmental agencies. Today, many are jumping on the band wagon even as some cut back on these efforts as a result of limited budgets. Examples of the top down approach include creative- and innovation-centered educational programs, arts districts and funding of creative placemaking efforts just to name a few.

A major challenge with this approach is to develop measures that prove that the money was well spent or in business terms “return on investment.” In an era of scarce resources, taxpayers and donors are demanding effective investments that lead to sustainable outcomes. Another challenge major challenge is to insure that these efforts have a positive and long term effect on the people they were designed to help – namely the individual artists and creative enterprises as well as the communities where these efforts are targeted.

The bottom up approach

It’s just what it says – developing the creative economy by nurturing the individuals and enterprises that make up the creative economy.This could take the form of direct investments into the entrepreneurial sector, incubators, mentoring and education for those involved in the creative sector. One of the advantages of this approach is that the funding and other efforts have a more direct route to those involved in the creative sector with fewer layers of middlemen.

Read the rest of the article at ColoradoBiz Magazine – Building the Creative Economy From the Ground Up