Thursday, February 12, 2009

Here Comes the Creative Class Economy

Last week the Martin Prosperity Institute of the Rotman School of Business (UofT) released their report Ontario in the Creative Age to the provincial government on how to take our province to the next economic level. Co-authored by Roger Martin and Richard Florida (think bestseller books Rise of the Creative Class Economy and Who's your City?) the report outlines the challenges of a "routinized" economy (read blue collar) when what we should be doing is engaging the whole person in a "creative" way.

The trends highlighted in the report include the transformation in how people work in our economy. We are moving to an economy that values people’s creativity, especially analytical and social intelligence skills. These skills demand reasoning in uncertain environments to make good decisions and capabilities to understand other people and to work in team settings. According to Florida, "Routine-oriented occupations that draw primarily on physical skills or abilities to follow a set formula can be done more cheaply in emerging economies and will have trouble surviving in advanced economies."

Later in the press release they outline some of the challenges:

... Ontario faces some challenges in strengthening its capabilities for
competing in the creative age. Ontario has a good share of workers in
creativity-oriented occupations, but they are not as highly rewarded as in
leading U.S. states. While the province has an excellent mix of clustered
industries, they do not compete adequately on the basis of creativity. The
Province is highly tolerant and diverse, but is not able to translate this
openness to the level of prosperity that ought to follow. It has a strong
mega-region, but does not connect the province well enough for the creative age. What does this have to do with singing?


According to Florida, the Creative Class is:

...40 million strong, making up 30 percent of the U.S. workforce, with 50 percent of wages earned and controlling nearly 70 percent of discretionary spending in the US. That is over $500 billion in purchasing power annually! This consumer group, consisting of scientists, engineers, managers, innovators, and people in research and development, as well as artists, writers, and musicians are the most educated and demanding consumers in the marketplace.

The four main recommendations encourage Ontario to harness their full creative potential, aspire to be the world’s most talented jurisdiction, establish new social safety nets, and build province-wide geographic advantage.

How is music part of that?

  1. Educating ourselves to higher degrees - think past the undergraduate programs in Music and look at the graduate level of education. Not many of our universities offer Doctoral programs in music because we don't hire people with DMAs. Compare our music programs to similar sized universities in the US and we fall way below the bar with education. We need to catch up and quickly!

  2. Educating those around us on what we do and why - education outreach, community talks, more studio recitals, creating relationships with businesses and media outlets, and bringing music back into the public school system.

  3. Work in our community to establish programs and concert series to support culture - based on the idea that people want to live in a cultured centre, we need to continue to support local musicians, painters, writers etc to do their thing. We also need to find ways to exhibit our art in ways that are self - sustainable.

  4. Move outside our community to work on a collective basis - organizations like NATS, ORMTA and National and Provincial Music Festival Associations are all great organizations to get involved with but we need to balance our organizations to do an equal amount of outreach as we do supporting our members.

How are you creating a "creative" environment in your studio or school? How can we engage the whole person as a singer and musician? What programs can we encourage and inspire in ourselves and our students? How can we take the study of music and music making past the "66% of music majors who apply to med school are admitted" marketing and make it MEAN something to our cultural IQ? If the book This is your brain on Music is the ramp UP, then the creative economy is the RAMP from which we need to leap.

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