The dismal New York Mayoral campaign has me wondering if we might be seeing the peak of New York as a creative, innovative hub for this cultural/economic cycle. The biggest political themes are class and ethnic conflict revolving around “You got yours, I want mine” politics. What I don’t hear is an understanding of why New York is so “hot” right now, while Paris is not and why dynamic young people from all over the world are moving the to Big Apple and not to Rome.
I am not hearing much about innovation and startups, incubators and universities, Kickstarter and MakerBot, creativity and economic growth, the data-driven economy and the art-driven real estate market. There is silence about the need for better gifted-and-talented public school programs or better tax-breaks to build middle-income rentals for the people who are not Russian moguls and escaping Chinese plutocrats. Does any candidate even know about what is happening in Brooklyn and the Brand Brooklyn? Or understand what the growing share economy means?
Meanwhile, over in London, mayor Boris Johnson is calling for a “London Visa” to attract more talent. The special visa would target high tech startup people, hot fashion designers and creators of all sorts to London. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/62459d68-1701-11e3-bced-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=intl#axzz2eJGbJSik
Now that’s brilliant thinking. I hear nothing of the sort from the horde of candidates wanting to become mayor of New York City.
I am co-teaching a grad course at Parsons this fall on Creativity and the City which examines the crucial role cities play in engaging and promoting our creativity.
This week in class we are reading Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s book “Creativity,” focussing on his chapter on Creativity and the Renaissance which deals with the rise of Florence. It’s so good I could cry. He says that “…creativity, must, in the last analysis, be seen not as something happening within a person but in the relationship within a system."
The ultimate system, or "domain” as “Chicks” calls it, is the city. Without the proper leadership which understands the value of creativity to both society and the economy, you won’t get creativity. Without the right kind of patrons who support creativity, the right kind of experts who can recognize creativity and the right kind of spaces and neighborhoods where creative people are drawn to live, you’re not going to get creativity.
Bloomberg, a high-tech financial entrepreneur, who became the single largest philanthropist in New York City, understood most of this. But who among the seven candidates running for mayor really does? Beats me and I have to vote next week.