Cheap ticket to Florida:
The Rise of the Creative Class has just been published in paperback. Since it was published, some economists have started picking at some elements of Florida’s case; such as Joel Kotkin, Terry Nichols Clark and Steven Malanga. I see this as a good thing; because if Florida can successfully refute such hard-nosed critics, then his case becomes far stronger.

One basic criticism I have of Malanga’s figures is that two major planks of his argument rest on “big business” surveys – the National Commission on Entrepreneurship study and the Money magazine survey. Such high-level surveys only catch firms large enough to show up on government indices, but ignore the hosts of smaller and hard-to-find ‘micro-business’ firms, not to mention self-employed freelancers. We know from numerous studies that a lot of creative industries workers work in micro-firms or new industries that don’t show up on the economic radar. Even larger firms often get overlooked, often because some blinkered civil-servant has recorded them in an outdated or imprecise business-sector classification.

I totally agree with Malanga though, when he writes things like…

[Florida] thinks that government officials and policy makers like himself can figure out how to produce [a city’s creative buzz] artificially. He doesn’t seem to recognize that the cultural attributes of the cities he most admires are not a product of government planning but have been a spontaneous development, financed by private-sector wealth.”

It may be that both Florida and his critics only partially apply to our far more crowded and difficult-to-measure island. Here, we can be certain that gentrification of unfashionable areas does happen, and that in most instances this is driven by an advance-guard of artists & creatives. This is a concrete example of “the creative class” having a large-scale and long-term impact on an area. Yes, we eventually get forced out by gentrification too; but we often leave behind the potential for lucrative long-term cultural tourism. Hoxton’s eateries and estate-agents will live off Tracey Emin’s bed for many years yet.