Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The New Creative Economy

I attended a lecture tonight about the new, creative economy here in Portland. How to get creatives working again and what companies who are still in business are doing to stay in business. Three things stood out:

1) My favorite piece of advice was to become indispensable. This can work if you are self-employed, a full-time or a part-time employee. Be the person they want/need and turn to for your expertise. 

2) The question was also asked of the panel: "Tell us a good story of a time when you were unemployed." I won't rehash them here, but they were funny and sad and yet, enough pounding the pavement got each of them a job and got them where they are today, at companies like Nau, Weiden and Kennedy, 52 Limited and VizWerks. Are you employed now? Were you unemployed previously? Would love to hear more tales of joy or woe on the topic. 

3) There were a number of individuals in attendance who are on the political side of the creative economy agenda. One of my biggest concerns of late are the amount of design and creative schools popping up in Portland (which is great), and the lack of places to work post graduation. 

Freelancing and consulting and running a small business works for some of us, but many still need/want full-time employment. There was much talk of getting funding for arts education, but little talk about where exactly all those creative students would work if they wanted to stay in Portland after graduation.  My talented circle of friends and colleagues - MANY of whom are un or underemployed, are a testament to this ever increasing problem. I'm in search of a committee to join to be part of the solution. 

Some interesting numbers on the Portland Metro area arts and culture and employment:  Creative Capacity. 

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