Insight: Creative Economy Shared and Experienced (2013 Edition)

“Creativity has come to be valued — and systems have evolved to encourage and harness it — because it is increasingly recognized as the font from which new technologies, new industries, new wealth, and all other good economic things flow”
– Richard Florida

We here at the Martin Prosperity Institute recognize the positive effects that having a diverse set of creative people share their ideas with each other can have. As we continue to examine how regions are performing in regards to attracting and keeping Creative Class individuals and businesses, we ourselves also benefit from the exchange of creative ideas with people from around the world. This is why the MPI has continued to host the annual Experience the Creative Economy Conference (ECE). Currently in its sixth year, the conference brings early career academics to our offices to present their research on the creative economy. The conference took place from June 18th–21st and was held in our new offices at the Rotman School of Management.

Every year the ECE conference draws academics from a diverse set of cities and countries. Represented at this year’s conference were Aalborg, Denmark; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Columbia, South Carolina; Cambridge, United Kingdom; Munich, Germany; and Birmingham, United Kingdom amongst others. The participants came from a variety of leading universities such as Princeton University, Yale University, Harvard University, University of Cambridge, University of Chicago, LMU Munich, University of Alberta and Aalborg University. As always, the conference included ‘Academic Speed Dating’, an icebreaker where each participant discusses their research and academic background one on one with each other. This was followed by the opening Rise of the Creative Class Revisited session lead by MPI director Richard Florida.

ECE 2013 - Picture 1

The ECE conference not only allows the participants to view presentations from noted academics Richard Florida and Kevin Stolarick, but it allows them to present their own knowledge and research to us and each other in a collaborative manner that allows for general discussion and feedback. As always a diverse variety of topics was presented by the participants. Some of the presentations looked at the Creative Class in relation to technology and innovation such as “An unequal landscape: How local rates of employment in creative class occupations and high-technology industries differentially shape individual earnings” by Colby King. Every year there are presentations that discuss the relationships between art, creativity, and regional development, which was also apparent this year with “Incentivizing creativity: State tax incentives and the growth of the Georgia film industry” by Ric Kolenda and “Artistic Creatives: Investigating patterns between private and occupation-based creative activity” by Jennifer Novak-Leonard. The MPI is always examining urban planning and geographic relationships, and this year’s ECE conference brought together academics that presented urban planning and geography research from regions that we have not yet examined. For example Jens Kaae Fisker’s presentation “Working creatively with redundant urban spaces: Exploring a nomadic creative project in Aalborg, Denmark” provides insight into how there is an opportunity for and benefits of creativity to be expressed through urban planning. The full list of the presenters and presentations including abstracts and biographies can be found on the ECE website.

The ECE conference has once again brought together a diverse group of academics from Universities across the world to share their research with us. In its 6th year, the conference’s network has grown once again, as there were participants from a variety of cities and universities that have not participated before. The collaborative experience that the conference provides, once again successfully allowed the participants and us here at the MPI to experience various concepts of the creative economy presented and discussed in a small setting by numerous academics in order to broaden our overall understanding of creativity.

ECE 2013 Picture 2


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The Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto‘s Rotman School of Management is the world’s leading think-tank on the role of sub-national factors — location, place and city-regions — in global economic prosperity. We take an integrated view of prosperity, looking beyond economic measures to include the importance of quality of place and the development of people’s creative potential.