(Host) Commentator Peter Gilbert says that there is a group looking into the relationship between cultural and arts organizations and good jobs.
(Gilbert) When my wife and I are determining what town to live in, we check out two things: first, of
course, the schools: are they good? Second, the public library. I check out the community bulletin board. I want to see if it is a vital town.
But if there are fliers promoting talks, concerts, book discussion groups, community shows, and music lessons, it tells me that there are interesting
things going on – things that make the town a community.
Not everyone scans town bulletin boards, but many people look for similar indications community vitality. A new task force has formed to examine the role that Vermont’s cultural resources play in the life of the state, and the contribution they make to the state’s economy. How much of an economic engine are the museums, libraries, historical societies, arts and humanities organizations, and the like?
In addition, research in other states suggests that such organizations are key to the creative or
innovative economy – the people and businesses that rely on their creative and innovative skills — architects, writers, graphic artists, software
designers, entrepreneurs, and developers of new technology. Data suggest that a state’s cultural resources promote the creative or innovative
economy. If a town or city does not have much going on in terms of arts and culture – if its library is not vital, if it lacks arts and music and films and reading groups, or historical societies; if historical preservation efforts are wanting, then most likely the kind of jobs that
rely on human creativity and innovation won’t be there in large numbers either. And here’s the kicker: in many regions, the innovative economy is
the only part of the economy that is growing. Increasingly new jobs are innovative or creative economy jobs.
Our sense of place and Vermont’s distinctive identity are enhanced by the presence of creative economy jobs and by the cultural resources that
encourage those jobs. Arts, humanities, historical preservation, and cultural organizations help keep Vermont Vermont, and that is essential to tourism, to attracting people to live here, and to giving native Vermonters ways to stay.
Over the next year the Vermont Council on Culture and Innovation, a group of nonprofit and business people, will be meeting, hearing from Vermonters
throughout the state, and exploring public policies and initiatives that might advance Vermont’s creative economy. City planners know that one way
to encourage economic renewal in a neighborhood is planting trees. People like to have stores and homes on streets where there are nice trees, not
concrete wastelands. Similarly, the Council on Culture and Innovation will be working to support arts and humanities initiatives, promote healthy
communities that have jobs in the growing creative economy, enrich the lives of Vermonters, and put pay checks in their pockets.
This is Peter Gilbert in Montpelier.
Peter Gilbert is Executive Director of the Vermont Humanities Council. He spoke from our studio in Montpelier.