Friday, November 9, 2007

Considering the Core Creative Class in Dayton

I did a little mini-atlas of a few of the “creative class” occupations identified in Richard Florida’s book. I didn’t use all of the occupations he uses, more the artistic, media, and technical professional ones in engineering, computers, and sciences (which are also fields that are growing here). My selection was influenced somewhat by CP Snow’s concept of the “two cultures
Here’s a look at what I call the “core creative class”, people in the arts, applied art and design plus entertainers, musicians, and people in athletics. For a list of all the occupations covered by this group click here.

The maps give a % by census tract (% of people living in the tract who are core creatives) and a raw count, for the top 10 census tracts (I put in some neighborhood or location names so you can recognize them).

As one can see smaller tracts can have higher %s, even if the raw count of core creatives is small, and vice versa.

Next, media workers, including authors, tech writers, photographers, broadcasting, movies (including the various craft/trades associated with media, like cameramen and sound technicians).

Putting it all together.

One can see where this core creative class lives in Montgomery County. And it seems to be both in the city as well as out in some suburban areas one would not expect, like apartment complexes out near the Dayton Mall and fairly generic subdivision neighborhoods, as well as some neat inner suburbs like Southern Hills.

This shouldn’t be too surprising when one thinks of some local creative folks who live in suburbia. Robert Pollard is a good example of that (lives in Kettering). The band members from Dementia Precox (from Beavercreek) are another .

The sources for the numbers is the census, and this is for the work people do most of the time. Thus it doesn’t account for the “day job” aspect of doing creative work, where people who, say, play in a band might have day jobs to survive, though their personal focus is on music. Same with visual artists and authors.

on edit, here is a good article on the importance of Day Jobs (from Austin, Texas)

What is the connection between the Creative Class concept and bohemia? Bohemia is increasingly of interest to urban theory, both as a social milieu and a geographic expression.

Two Tales from Urban Bohemia

(apologies to the Dandy Warhols)

LinkNeo Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City is about Chicago’s Wicker Park, and has a bit of an ideological axe to grind, though entertaining as a history/ethnographic study.

Selling the Lower East Side is about Loisaida/East Village in NYC, and is quite interesting as a history of multiple bohemias occupying the neighborhood—and sharing it with white ethnics and later Puerto Ricans--- through time. (check out the website at the link for a good chronology).

One of the lessons of these books is that urban bohemia pioneered by the core creative class of artists, writers, and musicians becomes attractive to other creatives and professionals with more remunerative occupations, hence the importance of milieu. People just like the vibe and energy of places that have a lot of core-creative folks, AKA “making the scene”.

Another example is what happened in northern England, where pop culture (and gay culture so some extent) became connected to urban regeneration.

A good local example of missing all these points is Mary McCarty’s recent opinion piece. Her point is that one should involve mainstream performing arts orgs and presenters, or (tongue in cheek) spend the money on them instead of a consultant.

I had referenced this study in an earlier post as a caution on the Creative Class theory. The study does, however, stress the importance of milieu, and says this:

Public spending on the arts, justified on the basis of increased regional competitiveness may very well be wasteful if directed to high visibility projects that do nothing to increase human-scale interaction…Any metropolitan region pursuing a creative economy strategy in earnest should engage local artists in devising the best ways to encourage the social and cultural interaction that engender creative milieus. The research community can contribute to this effort by empirically examining the evolution of creative milieus across all cities.

Note were it says “engage local artists”. This would be people like David Sparks, Bing Davis, the people who organize and perform at the Dayton Music Fest, Reggae Fest, Blues Fest, local indy music labels, The Circus, the people who organized the performance art thing at the Gym Club, The Front Street artists, the printmakers up off of Keowee in North Dayton, Mick Montgomery and some of the other local live music bar owners, and so forth

In other words, engage the more underground and bohemian side of the local cultural scene.

That's what needs to happen as part of the upcoming creative class study.


Admin said...

Nice post. After reading it I couldn't help but wonder if your maps would change if you included all of Florida'a creative class occupations in the analysis.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, congrats on getting this link posted on Richard Florida's website! Well done.

Jefferey said...

For Bruce: Yes it would. Take a look at the link to the mini-atlas I posted at UrbanOohio. You can see the large numbers for technical professionals vis a vis "core creative class". These would certainly change the geography, esp. if one would add doctors, lawyers, management types, etc.

One profession I'd like to map out are lawyers, as so many law offices are located downtown.

My attempt here was to look at growing professions...and especially at where the more "bohemian" creatives might live. I think the census info is of limited use in this, due to day jobs.

Jefferey said...

Mark, thanks for the info. I don't think many people in Dayton read this blog, let alone out-of-towners, so I am pretty suprised to see that mention.

Anonymous said...

Great analysis. Is the data you used by place of residence or by place of work? One of the challenges we face here in Austin when people talk about the creative class is that downtown looks like a creative mecca if you use occupation data by place of work from the BLS. But then you realize that 95 percent of those folks drive home to the suburbs in the evenings, where they are active in community groups, support local art organizations, etc. It's tough to engage people if you can't get a handle on the geography. I like your approach with the maps. I can see how that would be really valuable to help people think about this topic.

Jefferey said...

The data is from the census, Summary File 4, which I think is based on the census long form. The census organizes the data by BLS job classifications.

The data is by place of residence.

I was more interested in that as I was curious where these people lived, and this produced some suprising results, if one is famliar with the local geography.

I am not convinced this approach gives a fair count of the more "bohemian" types of creative class folks that I'm interesed in, but is probably OK for people in IT, the sciences, engineering, etc.

Phat City News - The World's Lone Repository of Outlaw Journalism said...

Thanks for the mention. But seriously, I can barely get a gig in Dayton, or sell a piece of art in Dayton.

I sell my art to folks all over the globe, get written about in newspapers, and magazines, have my music played on large European radio stations, and still...wouldn't even dare be considered for something like a Cityfolk festival, or even airplay on local radio outside of of public radio (thank you Rev. Cool).

Mind you though, I am certainly not alone on this count. There is little to no institutional support for any kind of outsider art or culture in America, especially in this corporatized age, which our leaders locally seemed to have swallowed hook line and sinkus.

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