Economic argument for arts funding a double-edged sword

Posted on: November 3, 2010

A report Tuesday (11/2) on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website states, “Arts advocates from across Canada gathered in Ottawa on Tuesday to re-think their role in the ‘creative economy,’ … a term popularized by urban theorist Richard Florida [which] argues that supporting artists, thinkers, inventors and others in the so-called ‘creative class’ results in net economic gains for cities and governments. … At ‘Artists: Powering the Creative Economy?,’ Tuesday’s event put on by the Canadian Conference of the Arts at the National Arts Centre, the effects of policies implemented with the creative class in mind were critiqued. Kevin Stolarick, a statistician with the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute who helped contribute to Florida’s landmark book The Rise of the Creative Class, said that while the concept has helped artists, decision makers are increasingly looking at the arts as just dollars and cents. ‘It’s been a trap,’ Stolarick said. ‘It was very easy to fall into, “Gee, we can fall back on an economic explanation to justify ourselves.” And that was easy when times were good, that was good enough reason to justify the expenses. But times aren’t so good anymore.’ ”

Posted November 3, 2010