The good (and perhaps surprising) news for the arts is…
The “creative industries” in Milwaukee
are alive and well.
“Creative industries” employ more people in Southeastern Wisconsin
than the much touted water industries and the food/beverage industries combined
is a national leader in “creative industries.”
What, you may ask, are the “creative industries?”
According to the report unveiled this evening by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee
at a gala event hosted by the Harley Davidson Museum
, they are “those organizations, individuals and companies whose products and services originate in artistic, cultural, creative and/or aesthetic content.” Specific examples include the usual suspects: cultural institutions like museums, architectural and graphic design companies, media and film producers, visual and performing artists and craftspeople, etc. Other examples, perhaps less obvious, include product designers, music publishers, booksellers, technical writers, art supply businesses, and so on.
To make a long story short, it turns out…drum roll…the arts are good for business, an asset to the community, and important to “the vitality and quality of life throughout the region.”
OK, some of us (I think we’re the ones being called “creatives”) believed this all along. But bravo to the Cultural Alliance and the Greater Milwaukee Committee for bringing it front and center. Mayor Barrett was on hand because, he said, he wants to be “out in front of this parade!”
The report, issued by a consulting firm from Massachusetts
, identifies four strategic initiatives. They are, in brief (and with brief commentary!):
“1. Grow the creative industries into a signature regional driver.” I like that – the arts as a signature industry, like Milwaukee
’s signature Art Museum
(aka “the Calatrava”).
“2. Expand the region’s creative talent base.” For me the most important single phrase in the entire report (which, we were told, totals 100 pages) is part of a subheading under this one: “…including reinstating arts as a high school graduation requirement.” A member of the audience added that education – arts education – can’t begin in high school. This received well deserved applause.
“3. Strengthen the sustainability of the creative industries….” The emphasis here was on “industries.” Again, during the question/answer period, someone observed how often artists and musicians are asked to give of their talents free of charge (I can relate to that!) By all means, we should strengthen everyone’s sustainability. It’ll be a great day when painters, actors, and musicians don’t need a day job to support their own creative industry.
“4. Establish segment councils to integrate creative industries.” There would be three overlapping councils: design, film & media, and cultural.
The bad news is that the “creative industries” are “fragmented, siloed and underresourced.” (Yeah, even MS Word underlined some of that jargon – I believe it means bunkered and underfunded.)
Let’s hope that the Cultural Alliance and the Greater Milwaukee Committee will be able to fulfill the promise of their report and implement the initiatives that they insist will overcome these problems. Better yet, let’s not hope, let’s help. I’m doing what I can.