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A powerful bunch

Shout out to Tacoma’s Creative Class

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Ah, the Creative Class. This latest demographic demi-urge was created by researcher-turned marketing guru Richard Florida, whose list of credentials is long. Florida coined the term to describe population and demographic trends that are making so-called creatives the core force driving economic growth in the world today.

A bunch of these creative folks will meet over beers in a couple weeks in Tacoma to talk about creative stuff thanks to an invitation from local print-artist Lance Kagey. The last gathering, which happened at The Hub, drew several dozen people claiming to be members of this coveted demographic. Ever since, people have been demanding to have another chance at it.

The Creative Class is a powerful bunch, and they’re defined as working in “thinking” professions, as opposed to “doing” professions. Once a working-class nation of farming, fishing, logging, manufacturing and a low-tech, America is becoming a nation of CAD designers, creative consultants, architects, branding strategists and videographers, just to name a few. According to Florida, even though the Creative Class represents only a third of the workforce, they earn more than $2.1 trillion dollars — that’s 50 percent of all wages and salaries in the United States, representing as much as the manufacturing and service sectors combined. The Creative Class also controls nearly 70 percent — almost $500 billion — of the discretionary income in the United States.  That’s more than double that of the manufacturing and service sectors combined.  The Creative Class is expected to add more than 10 million jobs in the next decade.

Florida and his new meme seem a lot more popular than when he came through Tacoma a few years ago to tell us how to build a city that will make this very mobile group want to live and do business here. Not because they have all the money, of course, but because creative people help build great, unique cities.
Well, that and the money.

At the time, the so-called creative class of Tacoma was represented by about 30 people from our fair city. But only a few, if any, were serious artists, which I’ll define as someone who spends most of their waking hours creating some kind of art. I have two possible explanations for this conspicuous lack. First, it could just be that we picked the usual suspects again. It happens in Tacoma. A lot. We’re an incestuous little community. Or it could be that community planning and economics just don’t appeal to the people who compose our arts community.
Either way, it’s a problem.

So if the Creative Class holds all the cards, and no artists are showing up to play the game, who does that leave to shape our economic future?

That’s right … squares, culture vultures and the industries that are spending millions to get their collective dough.

So go to The Hub on Oct. 22, artists. Become a member of the Creative Class, even if you do it with pure disgust for the label. And bring your unique ideas, vision and dreams. Because if you don’t, you’re going to get someone else’s.

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