The most successful American places in the 21st century are likely to be innovation hubs. They are locations that support an open innovation business model, foster co-location, and promote easy and constant interaction among many different industries and a wide variety of creative workers, from artists to scientists to engineers. It may seem ironic in today’s global economy, but place has become more important than ever.
Proximity reduces the overall costs of collaboration and makes it easier for the collaborators—both businesses and individual workers—to respond to new opportunities quickly and retool or reconfig- ure as needed.
A number of states are supporting the development of more and better innovative places generally and innovation hubs specifically. Three recurring themes have appeared in this effort:
The town of Ashland Virginia just launched an arts and culture district. I've been working up in Arlington Virginia, where one of the most remarkable and innovative spaces I've ever seen was created, the Gunston Arts Center. I'll be writing a post on that in the near future. Here's a sneak peak; a theatrical scene shop and two performance spaces on the campus of Gunston Middle School. The shop is available to all county theatrical companies to build sets. Here I'm beginning construction on the set for The American Century Theater's production of Sister Mary Ignatious Explains It All For You.
- Launching cultural districts and arts enterprise zones.
- Creating spaces for artists and other creative talent to cluster, interact, and thrive.
- Integrating arts, culture, and design into innovation hubs that encourage collaboration.
|Scene Shop at Gunston Middle School|
|Overhead view of Arlington County scene shop at Gunston Middle School|
Here are a couple of shots of the installed set. Note, these are not photographs of a classroom at a Middle school. They are photographs of a set of a classroom built in a black box theater on the campus of a Middle School!
The study goes on to say:
Just as states have created spaces for individual artists to live and work, they have created spaces within cities and towns for a wide variety of creative individuals and enterprises—artists, website designers, architects, writers, university professors, product engineers—to be close enough to visit one another “before the cup of coffee gets cold.” Increasingly, states are helping to create hubs and zones that encourage this kind of proximity, not just within economic sectors but across a diverse range of industries in which creativity matters, such as technology, entertainment, journalism, finance, and high-end manufacturing. The most successful of those initiatives are incorporating the arts and creative enterprises, not only as part of the industry mix but also as partners in the planning and development of the innovation zones. Inclusion of the arts and culture in all dimensions of hub development helps to create a fertile habitat for innovation and, ultimately, economic renewal and long-term prosperity, even in states that are facing some of the most acute economic challenges.
I say the competition is on. I say that it has never been a better time to be an artist in America, and that communities will have to up the ante if they want to draw driven, committed, creative individuals to be part of their economic growth strategy.
This is serious business folks. We are talking about the potential extensive relocation of many of the most creative people in America. What is going to draw them to your town? What are you going to do to keep them?