Why the Creative Economy is Important: a Talk with Christine Harris

Christine Harris is a key national figure in creative economy work, with over 30 years of experience working creative enterprises and community development. You can read Christine's bio here.

Recently, Christine spoke with AES about her work and teaching on the Creative Economy.

Christine, why is the Creative Economy course an important class for arts professionals?

“The arts are increasingly recognized as a valued creative community asset with the potential to stimulate economic growth and build social capital. Understanding the creative economy – what it is, how it is measured, and how it is impacting the community development conversation – will help any interested arts/creative professional understand the possibilities and pitfalls as well as connect to community leaders at a whole new level.“

What happens in the Creative Economy Course?

“This class will demystify the term, uncover why the creative economy is a major force in stimulating community development across the country, and explore how each community’s creative economy is unique. Students will examine the value of the creative assets in their community; determine its creative strengths and potential; discuss the important role in establishing partnerships with artists, business leaders and government officials; strategize on how to attract investment and diversify an economy; and much more. Students in this course will leave with the tools to understand, measure and develop a creative economy profile for your selected community.” 

What led you to becoming a Creative Economy Expert?

“After 30 years of working in nonprofit arts administration, I was fascinated by the evolution of the ‘creative economy’ and what it could mean for the creative, cultural and economic development of a community. And so, I left nonprofit administration to pursue this work. In 2013 I designed the first ever national research looking at how communities were defining and measuring their creative economies – the intersection of individual artists, nonprofit arts organizations and for profit creative businesses. That led to a national summit on the creative economy – convening professionals in economic development, leaders of community organizations serving the creative businesses and individuals, and research agencies. This past Oct 5 and 6 we held the 2nd national creative economy summit in Washington, D.C. Follow up from this summit includes international connections with organizations in Canada, Central and South America, and the U.K. As co-founder of the Creative Economy Coalition, our mission is to be THE resource to those organizations who are serving the creative businesses in their locales, and to be a national resource and convener for all things creative economy.

I love what opportunities this new way of looking at, defining and measuring our creative assets provides for all working in arts and cultural development!”

The Arts Extension Service offers the Creative Economy course online every spring. You can read more about the Creative Economy course here; to register for the Spring 2016 section of Creative Economy, click here.  AES also offers our publication the Partnerships in Creative Economy Workbook, and provides the Creative Economy Training Program for state arts agencies.