Creative economy: a less theoretical idea thanks to coworking

Many discussions are worth following on the global Coworking group on Google. This one, started by Cadu, from BeesOffice in Rio de Janeiro, was especially interesting.

Can coworking spaces stimulate the development of today’s creative economy?“, was asked…

The 20th century’s economy was based on the industry. The 21st century’s economy will rely much more on creative individuals, soft skills and innovation networks.

Alex Hillman, from IndyHall, in Philadelphia, counts among the main figures in the US Coworking community and beyond.

In reply to Cadu’s question, Alex shared a very insightful thought stressing the difference of impact he noticed between, on the one hand, the creative economy promoted as a theoretical model by some agencies and, on the other hand, the creative economy as it’s achieved now by a new category of players, among which, of course, you may find coworking spaces.

Here bellow is Alex full comment on the Coworking Google group :

The biggest problem with the “creative economy” as an idea is it’s an enforced one, not an emergent one. It’s usually the one used by the Economic Development Centers and local governments to describe a group of people that they’re not. As a result, the people that they’re describing don’t know or understand what they’re being called, or the direct benefit it has to them.

This “insider vs outsider” effect has some potential benefits (like varied perspective), but I think that the overall impact of organizations that have built themselves to “improve the creative economy” over the last 10 years is far less than what coworking spaces have been able to demonstrate in less than half that time.

Coworking, I think, highlights the same opportunities that “Creative Economists” have been talking about for a decade or more, but instead of labeling something we don’t understand, we’re immersing ourselves in the growth of the economies and taking the time to understand why they work, what they mean, who contributes to them, and why.

In short, I think that there’s undeniable potential for building economic stimulus in what we do. I think we need to be mindful of what makes us
uniquely valuable, and continue to focus on that, in order to see the greatest potential outcomes from the groups we participate with.

If you want to read a very long, rambly, and personal account of where I drew the line in the sand between the “real” creative economy and the people
who spend lots of time and money talking about it, you can read this post.

Theres a lot of lost context, unfortunately, so I hope it does more good than harm…I’m 100% certain though that I’m not the first person to have
felt the way I expressed in that post, and I’m also aware of coworking space catalysts and leaders around the country having similar experiences with
their local EDC activities.

As one more aside, my partner Geoff recently posted this as a follow up to a recent article on TEDxPhilly, and I think it succinctly captures everything
I’ve said here:


coworking in philadelphia


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