Arts-Based Community Development Convening
Transforming Post-Industrial Cities through Art and Innovation
April 12 through 14, 2012 - St. Louis

The Creative Supply Chain

Posted on by roseann

The Detroit Creative Corridor Center is gearing up to bring you the 3rd annual Rust Belt to Artist Belt conference April 6-7, at the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education. The Rust Belt to Artist Belt conference originated in Cleveland, Ohio, by CPAC (Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.) The focus of the last two conferences have been focused on facilitating dialog about providing essential services for artists to flourish in “rust belt”/post-industiral cities. This year, we’re helping to expand the scope of the conference by hosting it in Detroit and by presenting dialog surrounding the creative supply chain. We’re bringing in some pretty incredible local, national, and international speakers to share their insights, and will be providing a lot of opportunities for you to engage with the creative scene in Detroit and interact with the speakers and other conference attendees.

But what is the creative supply chain? It’s every level of interaction that touches a creative product or service, and whether you realize it or not, you’re probably a part of it. It’s the artists and designers and creative thinkers, of course, but it’s also the manufacturing, distribution, sales, and other business activities that bring creative and cultural goods to artists and markets.

To be clear, there is no real intrinsic difference between creative and cultural goods. Creative goods could essentially encompass anything, as the word “creative” itself is a very subjective term. But when we use the term “creative goods,” we’re talking about the creative economy. We’re talking about products and services such as architecture, interior design, graphic design, marketing, media, advertising, film production and distribution and music production and distribution. We’re also talking about fashion design, animation, games, and even web programming. These are products and services with a commercial market.

Cultural goods traditionally refer to artistic output that exists for the merit of its own production, not for a client or commercial use. This might include performing arts, visual art, poetry, literature, or other traditional and contemporary art forms.

But today we live in the age of the mash-up. You’re not so likely to find creative practitioners who only work in one medium or who focus solely on cultural vs. commercial aims. New lines of inspiration are crossing and are facilitating hybrids of creative output- there’s the street artist who works as advertising professional by day, the techno DJ who plays alongside concert symphonies, or the filmmaker who contributes fine art films to festivals and gets recruited by the BBC to produce documentaries. And because of these cross-overs, or perhaps in spite of them, we’re witnessing TV commercials beautiful enough to serve as art and art installations accessible enough to engage a mainstream commercial audience.

The city of Detroit makes for an ideal landscape to witness the interactivity of the creative supply chain. The 21st Century so far is experiencing a global shift from making things to conceiving of and designing things. In other words, economists have long been predicting the move from a manufacturing economy to an ideas economy or a knowledge economy. But Detroit’s creative community is bringing the “maker” back. We don’t just design things, we fabricate things, deconstruct and reconstruct things. This is apparent at Omni Corp Detroit, or in the ever-growing Do-It-Yourself (DIY) community.

Our reputation for our creative scene has garnered a lot of media attention both locally and globally. There is a myriad of international travelers here any given week, filming documentaries, writing articles, collaborating on projects or just checking things out. All of this attention has highlighted the connectivity of Detroit-based artists and designers to non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, policy makers and mainstream media. This is the creative supply chain, and it proves the expansiveness of the creative economy’s effect on a city…

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