Art industry not only booms in New York or London


Oakley (2009) believed that creative and cultural industry has “a surprising tendency to co-locate, generally in major cities, and often within the same neighborhood or building”. But the news piece I am sharing today demonstrates the artistic charm and centripetal force of smaller cities compared to London and New York. Cedar Rapids, the second largest city in Iowa witnessed its art economy grabbing an opportunity to get long-awaited boost. We’ve read a lot about how artists find it a challenge to make a living right now. For Cedar Rapids, the difficulty also exists, from “relatively small number of galleries and performance venues to the city’s overwhelming association with industry rather than the arts”. But according to the article, the community is embracing opportunities:

  • The opening of the NewBo City Market has brought hundreds more weekly visitors to the New Bohemia Arts and Entertainment District, the city’s emerging arts area.
  • New programs aimed at helping artists survive and thrive in a challenging economic climate have been started.
  • The nearby Ceramics Center added a 800-square-foot gallery space and wood-fired to provide exhibit and retail opportunities for ceramic artists.

As a smaller city, Cedar Rapids attracts “consumers from outside its limited local market”. Some inspiring moves are engaging and educating the marketplace, encouraging artists to do original work, and raising the opinion of fairly compensating artists for their work, for example, “artists should have health insurance”. We’ve learned that “the low pay and relative insecurity” and “the nature of the work” (Oakley article), but obviously this nature is being challenged. Another way to confront the obstacles is that arts organization administrators sharing the same work space will share challenges and solutions.

All the moves are aimed at “creating an atmosphere where people are encouraged to take a chance”.

Even though many articles have talked about how artists take advantage of digital media especially social networks in this digital age, the last sentence of this article laughed at this idea: “We are in a weird moment, culturally, where we think Facebook is the answer, but it’s not.”


by Feiran


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