Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mulhern Working to Protect 'Creative Industry' Programs in Tampa

As Tallahassee's disastrous actions filter down to the local level, forcing local governments to make drastic cuts in quality of life programs, freshman city Councilwoman Mary Mulhern and Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena are trying to bring Tampa's "creative industries manager" position. The position has been empty since June.

"Creative industries manager" is a fancy way of saying an economic development officer who will focus on the arts and new technology. The arts are something close to Councilwoman Mulhern's heart because of her former job as a arts writer for Creative Loafing.

A lot of the inspiration for many city's focus on "creative industries" was the 2002 article by Richard Florida, "The Rise of the Creative Class."

The piece has generated its fair share of controversy, but the premise is that there is a creative class which is one of the major engines of economic development. Members of this class look for a lot of things in determining where they locate, but qualities like a thriving artistic scene rank high among them.

Whether or not one accepts the premise, certainly as the city looks at efforts to redevelop/revitalize its downtown (much of it, not coincidentally, centered around the Tampa Museum of Art), civic leaders have to be looking jealously across the water at St. Petersburg, who is seeing their downtown go through a renaissance driven in large part by private and public investment in the arts.

Of course, St. Petersburg is drastically cutting back support for nonprofits, including arts groups, so maybe the vaguely depressing downtown that Tampa currently has is in St. Petersburg's future well.


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