Looking back on Discovery Forum 2005, which focused on the need for creative collaboration between the arts and sciences in order for our local community to flourish and grow, I’m reminded of the ideas Richard Florida, author of The Rise of The Creative Class, presented at Discovery Forum 2004.

As our community embarks upon the discovery of newer collaborations to propel our community forward, Florida’s ideas about creativity still hold a creative blueprint for our community’s success.

His idea: Creativity is the great equalizer. The key is to make sure creativity is realized. An economy can be divided into three great sectors: manufacturing, service, and creative. The creative sector represents more than 50 percent of all the wealth, yet no one seems to know it exists. Economic power is no longer tied to land, natural resources, or factories, but to who can capture the creativity-i.e. people like Bill Gates.

Where does creativity come from? It’s unique as an economic force because it comes from people. "Every single human being is creative. The key is to nurture, harness, and mobilize that creative capability," he said.

Not surprisingly, creative people want to be in creative places. More than 38 million Americans are paid to be creative. And where do they want to live? They want a place with individual art opportunities, galleries, a variety of music, excitement, energy, and a city with a night life. With the busy schedules of most Americans, they want numerous options available when it fits into their schedule.

When researchers asked high-tech professionals what they wanted in a community, the answer was surprising. They want an environment open to diversity. Creative people are intrinsically motivated. Across America, the top high-tech cities are also the top creative communities. These are places open enough to an artist community, immigrants, and diversity. Places that can mobilize their resources together-not places that segregate and pull away from differences.

Historically, the creative individual has been oppressed. It was those very oppressed people who immigrated to America. Today, America is discouraging immigration, and the best and the brightest are no longing coming. Toronto and Vancouver, Canada, are currently the top two growth cities in North America. Why? They’re welcoming immigrants and view them as a mosaic-not as a melting pot. The creative class is highly mobile compared to the working class, and the creative class will move to the communities open to diversity.

Creativity drives economic growth. The belief that a community with technology will grow is no longer the case. In actuality, places that are multi-dimensional in creativity will experience the most growth.

ArtsPartners remains a willing partner in nurturing creative partnerships that will tie our area arts to business, science, technology, and education. For Peoria’s successful future to be fully realized, we know these collaborations are imperative. That’s why we strive to find ways to make these creative connections possible. AA!