The Creative Economy: How a Chamber of Commerce and Arts & Business Council Are Changing the Conversation

Posted by Rob Wonderling, Jul 23, 2015 0 comments

For nearly 35 years, the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia (A&BC Philadelphia) has been engaging with business, legal, and technology professionals to strengthen our region’s cultural sectors. A&BC Philadelphia continues to support the business aspect of our arts community through volunteer consulting projects, board governance, leadership development programs, and pro bono legal services. From the beginning, the organization has done this work under the umbrella of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. We are currently the only chamber of commerce in the United States that is directly affiliated with an Arts & Business Council. Through this unique partnership, we are able to facilitate the continued growth of both our members, and the region at large.

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce represents over 600,000 employees in the eleven counties of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware that make up the Greater Philadelphia region. We strive to influence business-friendly legislation, participate in initiatives to improve education and the community, promote professional enrichment programs, and provide our members with cost-efficient ways to run their businesses. We care about regional growth—not only in terms of business metrics, but also in terms of the quality of life for our residents, the attractiveness of our city for visitors, and the levels of civic engagement and innovation that generate momentum. We value the vibrant cultural community that has helped make our region a great place to live and work, as well as a top destination for those who enjoy the arts.

We also appreciate the skills-based volunteer and leadership opportunities that A&BC Philadelphia provides to our Chamber members. The organization’s programs offer our members opportunities to gain meaningful experiential learning and leadership development through volunteer consulting and board service. We also provide unique chances for business, technology, and legal professionals to apply their skills to challenges in the creative sector, knowing they will bring new knowledge and perspectives back to the workplace.

But our commitment to the creative sector goes well beyond the artists and cultural institutions traditionally served by A&BC Philadelphia. Increasingly, when we talk about the “creative economy”, we are talking about fashion designers, architects, graphic designers, technology experts, and scientists. We are talking about innovators and “makers” in every kind of enterprise, from students to start-ups to seasoned business executives. In a recent Forbes article, Steve Denning defined the creative economy as “the economy that keeps generating new products and services.” He observed that, “Because it delights its customers and continuously adds value, this economy is thriving”. That’s exactly the kind of economy we hope to foster for our member companies, and creative professionals too.

Together, A&BC Philadelphia and the Chamber are working to blur the lines and break down the barriers that used to separate “arts” from “business,” recognizing that our greatest successes come from collaboration. The organization is leading the charge in successful influence, with innovative programs like Designing Leadership, which brings together for-profit and non-profit creative professionals for an in-depth executive development experience, with content delivered by The Wharton School and IBM. And with cross-sector events that bring thought leaders like Malcolm Gladwell, Arianna Huffington, Sheryl Sandberg, and Linda Hill to our region to challenge old assumptions and offer new insights.

We are fortunate to have A&BC Philadelphia as an affiliate. Together, we will continue to advance the conversation about opportunities to enhance and participate in our region's vibrant creative economy.

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