May 3rd, 2013 Vibrant Future of Creative Economy

On Friday, May 3, 2013, OLC attended Vibrant Future of the Creative Economy at the Old School, sponsored by Openinvo.

Emily Lutzker, CEO and founder of Openinvo introduced the idea of “untapped capital” to an anxious crowd that had gathered to learn more about artistic capital—rather, creative capital. “We’re artists that develop arts and services,” Lutzker said. “The idea of untapped capital is the concept behind the Ideas City Festival.” The four day festival explores the future of cities around the globe. It’s the belief that arts and culture as the life and blood of urban centers. Ideas City is a collaborative initiative organized by hundreds of academic, culture, arts and civic organizations. It’s a forum to exchange and develop ideas and creativity.

“We’re putting creativity as capital. We’re commoditizing creativity. It’s tied in with the creative economy. You see, artists are knowledge workers and in this economy, they’ve been forgotten,” Lutzker said. “So now, the question is, ‘What is arts thinking?’ We put meaning—we put it into cultural context. It’s user-centered thinking, which is ‘We design things for us’ and culture-centered thinking, which is ‘Arts design it.’ The only difference between design and arts thinking is the culture-centered aspect.”

Lutzker went on to list what makes arts thinking.

• Disruption—“It’s been the job of artists to disrupt the status quo,” she said.

• Bootstrapping—“Money is what it gives us, not for money itself.”

• Making something out of nothing.

• Trial and error, or having room for experimentation.

• Making relevant content and making people think and wonder about it.

• Inherent failure.

• Taking risks.

• Putting things together that didn’t seem to go together before.

• Being the mythological figure—“Be an outlier, be mysterious,” Lutzker proclaimed.

“You don’t have to be an artist to be an arts thinker. You can still use these methods,” she said. In regards to creative economy, value creation is arbitrary and mutually agreed upon. Creative economy is about knowledge workers, “and who are better knowledge workers than artists?” Lutzker said. She also revealed that culture-centered thinking is the first sign of arts thinking.

“Art is the only supply side sector. Artists make stuff and think stuff. Ideas are priceless and the expression of such is important. It matters. Art is valuable to humans—it’s important to humanity,” Lutzker concluded.

The talk shifted to Nomiki Konst, who was to moderate a discussion between Keith Emmer and Jessica Naeve for Don’t Fear the Bankers and Lawyers.

Nomiki Const consults companies on how to modernize and transition to the technological, informational age and rebuild, restructure their divisions around to reflect the 21st Century. She was a Democratic candidate for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District for the fall of 2012, running in the district formerly held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Keith Emmer is the founder of Startegix and he helps companies innovate and grow through insights and creative approaches to solve problems. Emmer also leads a consulting firm that helps early-stage startups. Emmer holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law and is a licensed attorney in New York. He obtained a B.A. from Brooklyn College, where he studied psychology and creative writing.

Jessica Naeve is a partner is a Partner at DeSilva+Phillips, a boutique investment bank covering middle market media, tech, information and marketing services. Naeve focuses on digital services across the media track and has worked with many big name technology companies throughout her career.

“The world is changing and you guys have somehow made it to where you are. Tell us your wisdom,” Konst asked the panelists.

“There seems to be a divide between left and right brain; that is, there’s a divide between artists and the finance world. It’s not just a divide, but there’s some antagonism. The bakers and lawyers seem to be all about the money, so there’s no authenticity to them in the eyes of artists. On the other hand, the bankers and lawyers see artists as children. They think that artists haven’t grown up. To me, business is the most creative market and business strategy is the creative endeavor. It’s good for creative people and the business world because it taps into creative capital. Arts capital is that future,” Emmer said.

“So how would you suggest artists and creative go about finding places for work?” Konst asked.

“From a practical sense, artists are high in demand, but large companies feel that they can’t find quality talent without acquisitions. That’s how they’re finding talent. In terms of finding positions, be creative. Find your friends, ask people you know—that’s one opportunity. The best thing to do is look for venture capital companies and look at their portfolios. They’ll have some interest in what you do when you can identify with what they’re doing,” Naeve said.

“Think about what you do when you match your talents up with their company. Sell yourself—it’s about advertising your skills,” Emmer added.

Konst asked Naeve how creatives can find a job.

“I started a website during the Dot-Com bubble and I started a business from that. In retrospect, that job was not as creative as what I’m doing now. Sometimes the jobs that look the most creative on paper isn’t the most creative. The best way to go about this is talking to people and networking to find something you’ll truly enjoy,” Naeve said.

“And how can creatives balance finance and creativity?” Konst asked.

“If you have an idea, choose a mentor with different perspectives and find out where the revenue is. Take a basic look at interests, payment and passion. Don’t waste your time writing a business plan,” Naeve suggested.

“What about in the business world—what should creatives focus on?” Konst asked.

“The language used in the financial world should be looked at. It’s also understanding business models. You can learn how businesses work very quickly. I think another important skill is marketing. It’s free knowledge and above all, it’s very important in business,” Emmer said.