Revitalizing cities through arts and cultural organizations

During the past several decades, the loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector have sapped the vitality of US cities. While a few cities such as New York City and San Francisco have been able to rebound, others have not. One revitalization approach calls for building amenities that will attract tourists and consumers; this approach supposedly creates jobs, initially in construction and then in the service sector, and is believed to bring in a revenue stream based on consumption. Sociologists John Logan and Harvey Molotch point out how a focus on increasing real estate values underpin this approach; political and corporate interests drive this urban growth machine. In practice, investments in venues such as sporting stadiums can be high-risk for residents, particularly when large projects worsen rather than improve a city’s fortunes, as this July 12th “A Stadium’s Costly Legacy Throws Taxpayers for a Loss” WSJ article outlines.

In his Rise of the Creative Class book, sociologist Richard Florida argues for another approach – that attracting creative professionals, such as artists and software programmers, is crucial to revitalizing cities. However, according to other researchers like geographer Julian Brash, this approach pits cities in a zero-sum game in which cities compete against each other for resources.

Others have since researched the roles that existing arts and cultural organizations and other collectivities play in revitalizing cities. For example, a new book by University of Michigan sociologist Frederick Wherry‘s The Philadelphia Barrio: The Arts, Branding, and Neighborhood Transformation (2011, UChicago Press) examines how local arts organizations and small businesses can take collective action to reinvigorate neighborhoods.

Similarly, in a forthcoming article, I explore how the Burning Man organization and off-shoots, such as the Burning Man regionals, local art projects, and Burners without Borders, establish a context that could stoke the creativity of a wider range of persons (i.e., not just trained professionals) at Black Rock City and other localities. “Lessons for Creative Cities from Burning Man: How organizations can sustain and disseminate a creative context” is in press at the peer-reviewed journal City, Culture and Society.

Burning Man Artist PR Web Seminar tonight 6pm PDT, Wed., July 13

You’ve worked long and hard on an art project or theme camp. How do you make sure that others learn about your work? Academics and artists alike eventually realize that toiling quietly in obscurity rarely results in public knowledge or recognition of hard work. On occasion, someone might literally trip over your work and be thrilled. But if others haven’t heard about your work, it’s likely that your work will languish like a gift that’s forgotten in the back of a closet – a great discovery, waiting to happen. You have the additional task of letting others know what you’re doing so that they can share your gift.

Tonight, Burning Man and the Los Angeles & Chicago communities are co-hosting a seminar on how to do public relations (PR). People can participate in a webinar or in person. Here’s the original announcement:

“Burning Man Artist PR Web Seminar

Dear Burning Man/BRAF Artist:

For several months, we have been helping Burning Man honorarium recipient and BRAF grant recipient with public relations strategy and tasks. Now that we are in July, we want to invite you to the first ever Burning Man Artist PR Web Seminar.

It’s important to provide for good public relations when your art becomes real in the desert (or in your home town). Yet, many artists are so busy solving problems and managing their builds they lose the chance to shine the light of good PR on their work and teams.

Please join us on line next Wednesday, July 13, at 6pm (Pacific time; 9pm Eastern time) for a special web cast to help you keep your date with fame.

Live from Los Angeles, Athena Demos will moderate a panel of experts who know public relations and know the playa.

We will also have conversations with Burning Man mangers and experts who can help you think through your strategy for pre-burn PR, on-Playa efforts, and post-burn communications to your team, your support base and the world.

Tune in by going to on Wednesday at the appointed time.

Or join us LIVE in LA at The Red Loft. Doors open at 5:30pm. Bring snacks to share. 440 Seaton St., Los Angeles, CA

You may want to be sure you have a team member also watching, because you may want someone watching out for your PR opportunities while you lead your team.

This is a production of the Burning Man Media Team, the LA Burning Man community and the Chicago Burning Man Community.

This is a gift from all of us to you.

Thank you for all you are doing right now.

See you Wednesday.”

Collaborative Intelligence Seminar- 10am EDT Thur., July 7, 2011 at SUNY Stony Brook

Prof. Todd Pittinsky at SUNY Stony Brook sent me the following info for those of you who are in the New York City/Long Island area and are interested in learning how to set up effective teams.

“The LI Infragard Alliance, the Metropolitan Area College & University
Security Consortium, and the Department of Technology and Society,
Stony Brook College of Engineering and Applied Sciences
will be
cosponsoring a talk by Professor J. Richard Hackman, Department of
Psychology, Harvard University. The talk will be held at the Wang
Center at Stony Brook University
on Thursday, July 7th.

This event will begin at 10:00 AM with coffee and networking. The
program will start at approximately 10:30 AM with introductory remarks
by Suffolk County Police Department’s Deputy Chief Mark White,
Homeland Security and Anti- Terrorism. The program is expected to
conclude by 12:30. Register via the link provided below.

Wang Center Lecture Hall 2:
10:00 am: Light breakfast sponsored by The Security Consortium
10:30 am: Introductory remarks: Suffolk County Police Department
Deputy Chief Mark White and Todd Pittinsky, SBU
10:45-11:45: J. Richard Hackman and open Q&A

About the Speaker:
Professor J. Richard Hackman serves on the Intelligence Science Board
of the Director of National Intelligence. He is the Edgar Pierce
Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard
University and a leading expert on group dynamics, team performance,
leadership effectiveness, and the design of self-managing teams and

Professor Hackman will speak to the subject of his most recent book
Collaborative Intelligence, Using Teams to Solve Hard Problems,
Lessons from and for the Intelligence Community
. Intelligence
professionals are commonly viewed as solo operators, but these days
intelligence work is mostly about collaboration. Interdisciplinary
and inter-organizational teams are necessary to solve the really hard
problems intelligence professionals face. This book and talk draws on
recent research findings as well as Professor Hackman’s own experience
as an intelligence community researcher and advisor, to show how
leaders can create an environment where teamwork flourishes.

Who Should Attend:
Although crafted for intelligence, defense, crisis management, and law
enforcement professionals, the talk will also be valuable for
improving team success in all kinds of leadership, management,
service, and production teams in business, government, and nonprofit

To register for this free event, please click this link.