The big news for those who haven’t heard is that Connecticut no longer has an Office of Culture and Tourism; instead, it has an art office within its Department of Economic & Community Development. Deputy Director Christopher Kip Bergstrom, sees himself as the state’s “commissioner of innovation and placemaking.” Admittedly quite a hip gig for a guy with horn rimmed glasses!
As noted in my earlier post from the Association for Performing Arts Presenters’ annual conference, placemaking as an approach to cultural engagement is WAY IN. The emphasis is no longer on tourism anymore, thank goodness. It’s about tying arts participation to specific economic drivers, and helping cities cultivate a residential creative class that includes smart people from the entrepreneurial business community. Right On!!!
One of the best things about this article – which I hope gets read widely and gets people excited – is the concept that cities are self-conscious works-in-progress. Each urban space like a remark in an ongoing conversation about how civilization in general is turning out, and the arts can make people more optimistic and likely to want to keep talking about what they do like about their cities and how they can become even better. The decision to move to a particular city is – for mobile professionals – a decision to engage with the story of that particular place, to contribute skills and talents and vocalize standards and tastes, to help make sure it turns out well. Cities can be cultures of enthusiasm, as long as they have art.