Deciphering Culture

New patterns of cultural infrastructure: the “creative economy” model

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Interesting article from Community Arts Network on new forms of cultural infrastructure that are developing in formerly marginal cultural centers

Something Different Is Stirring: DIY Culture in Silicon Valley

By Tom Borrup
SoFA District
The SoFA District (South First Street in Downtown San Jose) on a Friday night. Photo by Joshua Santos

…we can now treat culture not as one big blanket, but as the superimposition of many interwoven threads, each of which is individually addressable and connects different groups of people simultaneously…. In short, we’re seeing a shift from mass culture to massively parallel culture. –Chris Anderson[1]

Many have written on the social impacts of new technologies, globalization, the shift to the knowledge-based or creative economy and DIY or do-it-yourself culture. Various theories have been advanced as to how such change has begun to redefine work, the nature of cities and the role of arts, culture and education, especially with regard to economic growth and sustainability. However, there has been little discussion of how these changes impact the evolution of what we might call the cultural infrastructure – the networks of organizations, facilities and practices that have evolved in both older and newer urban regions.

Richard Florida, best-selling author and creative-economy guru, predicts in his latest book, “The Great Reset,” that radically new ways of living and working will emerge over the next two to three decades – changes that will exceed any of the social and economic paradigm shifts experienced since the mid-1800s. What this portends for the cultural sector as we know it is a question worth examining.

What I’d like to suggest in this article is that the bulk of what we understand to be the formal cultural infrastructure in the U.S. emerged with and was patterned after Industrial Age, or Industrial Economy thinking and models along with a Eurocentric cultural focus. Corporate structures that are hierarchical in form, centralized in their management and monocultural (or monolithic) in their product and/or interpretation reflect the norm. The realities of the emergent creative or knowledge economy, together with globalization and technologies such as the Internet and social media, have begun to suggest a different model. (to read more click here)


Written by Jeffrey Callen

April 20, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Arts & Community

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