How Cities Can Nurture Cultural Entrepreneurs

This paper, released a the first-ever Mayors Conference during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2013, discusses the importance of cultural entrepreneurs, particularly since the Great Recession. Author Ann Markusen of the University of Minnesota provides concrete steps that mayors and the public sector can follow to promote cultural entrepreneurship.

Economists and city planners increasingly have documented the roles artists play in local economies. As cities have better understood artists’ contributions to the metropolitan economic base – for example, by attracting cultural industry firms and bringing in income from outside the city through exports of books, recordings, visual art and other creations – their appreciation of and support for artists also have grown.

Noting that artists are many times more likely to be self-employed than are scientists and engineers, and that traditional policies and services don’t effectively support artists’ aspirations and occupational training needs, the paper offers seven strategies that mayors and city council members may champion to foster creative entrepreneurs:

  • Know who your local artists are.
  • Encourage convening and equipment-sharing artists’ centers.
  • Develop sustainable artist studio and live/work buildings.
  • Provide entrepreneurial training tailored to artists and designers.
  • Build networking and marketing opportunities for artists.
  • Embed artists in city development strategies.
  • Partner with local arts and policy faculty for entrepreneurial research and training.