The Proof is in the Pudding
Panels and symposiums don’t normally draw large crowds, at least not like live music and marching bands do.
So, when members of a select panel spoke recently at the NSU’s Museum of Art │Fort Lauderdale during a very unique symposium hosted by Broward Cultural Division, it was successful within itself that a crowd of more than 100 attendees arrived, including many from Broward’s Latin American and Caribbean communities.
They came to hear experts speak on the impact of creativity in their respective regions.
In attendance were Consulate representatives from St. Lucia, Jamaica and Peru, along with Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness, a huge proponent for diversity and supporting the minority Latin American and Caribbean demographic in Broward County. Holness opened the symposium with remarks that cited Broward County’s creative sector’s growth in the last six years at 57 percent, during a period of national depression. He also brought to light the demographics of Broward County which show a Hispanic population of 26.5 percent, Black and African-American population of 27.9 percent, and a white population of 41.9 percent - making it a Minority-Majority County. These demographics signify the importance of recognizing, measuring, and supporting the arts and cultural wealth that lies here.
The Zambrano Foundation and Greater Fort Lauderdale Sister Cities also took an interest in promoting the event and have expressed an interest in continuing to work together connecting their respective work with the role that culture plays in the social and business development.
And of course, I shamelessly plugged Broward County’s centennial, which is at the forefront of our cultural and artistic focus as we approach October 2015 in a yearlong celebration that is multi-cultural and creative at its very core!
On the contribution of creativity as a key element of economic and social development, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) published: “The Orange Economy: An Infinite Opportunity” co-authored by Felipe Buitrago and Iván Duque Márquez, Colombian Elected Senator representing Centro Democratico.
Our original intent was for the esteemed panel, including Buitrago, to discuss the importance of this report’s new data and its impact on this international region’s economy, and more importantly, the impact and the relationship to the economy of South Florida. It became so much more than that. In a very critical and creative look at how the arts have impacted the Latin American society in particular, each speaker presented various angles in their field of expertise.
In mentioning Creative BROWARD 2020 -A Plan for Cultural & Economic Development in Broward, Robert Albro made note that Broward County clearly understood how this all comes together, the importance of the decimation of valuable information, and the progress over the last 30 years—citing that time period as critical in its recognition of this new creative economy. He gave examples: $27 million was spent to produce top Broadway shows during that time and the workforce development into 1 in 10 jobs that now lie in the Creative Industries.
George Yudice spoke about connecting networks to artists to encourage sustainability, naming Fractured Atlas and Cultureworks as two such examples. He took some time to put some focus onto Broward County, with questions such as “Is Broward County pretty or interesting or both?” making the point that the title of Creative City needs to be earned. Some things to think about.
Ximena Varela touched on the very sensitive issue of opening up the creative economies to welcome artists to the U.S. who are well-known in their Diasporas, as a means to import creative expertise and also as a means to nurture an environment that will be a beacon for national and international trade. “Are we making a way for artists to come to the U.S. and stay with programs that are Investment Drivers, Tax Incentives, Lifestyles, Positioning and Problem-solving,” Varela asked. Varela cited examples of Sao Paolo, Brazil and Vancouver, Canada who use policy to develop creative economy and also that New Orleans was recreated after Hurricane Katrina by artists.
The Caribbean contingent felt the need for more Caribbean-based dialogue within the Broward Community, making this a goal for the future. Panelist Andrew Taylor noted that while it is important as artists that we don’t only seek what can be given to us as a starting point to building, we must also solidify and share what we as artists have to offer. This he felt was a critical difference in those who may succeed in any endeavor, artistic or otherwise. He also noted that creative cities need to see things differently for new discovery and new landscapes…breaking the glass ceilings…pioneering, creating. Eric Hershberg spoke heavily on the intersection of culture and economic development, citing that creative economy is now 6.1 percent of the world economy.
This presentation was peppered with excitement and sensation delivered through creative and cultural facts and statistics—and this is just the point: Art and culture takes the sometimes mundane facts and figures and turns them into color and form that creates interest and nurtures development in the individual, the community, and the economy. The proof was in the pudding at this symposium.