Problem-solving the Creative Economy

Recent Updates

Fall Chicago Arts Organizations in Society Grad Course

This fall, Ann Markusen is teaching Arts Organizations in Society, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to 27 graduate students from around world (Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, Colombia, Chiapas, China, Canada and the US). We’re covering many topics: art and politics, race/class/gender, gentrification, evaluation, arts participation, arts policy with great readings (everyone writes a reflection before class each week, posted on a discussion site), and every student is conducting and writing an artist profile, an arts organization profile, and an argumentative piece (written and spoken) about a theme they feel passionate about. Happy to share the evolving syllabus – send an email request to

New Publications and Videos of Talks

An interview with Ann Markusen on her roles and thoughts on the origins and practice of contemporary creative placemaking, published April 2016 in Just Creativity: Perspectives on Inclusive Placemaking. Julia Barnard and Rachel Wexler, “A Conversation with Ann Markusen and Her Word on Creative Placemaking.” Carolina Planning Journal, Volume 41, 2016: 18-21. Click on cover above. (Whole issue available digitally in June 2016:

Ann Markusen’s Foreward for Baltimore’s Arts & Cultural Vital Signs, “What We Learn from Cultural Vital Signs,” March 2016. Click on cover above.

Opening paragraph: Why are Baltimore’s Arts & Cultural Vital Signs so important? Because they enable us – citizens, policymakers, visitors – to see how ubiquitous arts and cultural capacity is across the city. The contributions that artists, arts organizations, and community cultural practices make to the life of a city are our glue. They help us celebrate who we are and our traditions. They encourage us to understand other cultures and traditions. They bring us new ideas, expose social ills, and provide creative means to protest injustice. They delight, challenge, and provoke us. They liberate emotions we didn’t know we had. They are, perhaps, the single most important ingredient in that amorphous thing/place/identity that we call community.

Video of Ann Markusen’s commissioned Bonner Equity Forum lecture at Portland State: “Creative Placemaking”

Video of Ann Markusen’s interactive session, How do we Know Creative Placemaking is Working?  WaterFire Conference in Providence RI: The Art of Placemaking,

Ann Markusen leads a discussion in an attempt to answer the following important questions: What are the missions of creative placemaking? How can we monitor progress over short periods of time? What research methods are best suited to the challenge? Who are the audiences for evaluation? What’s your best story about how research and evaluation led to better outcomes, and for whom?

Video of Ann Markusen’s short summary of research on the employment effects of raising minimum wages available on line:

Newly Published: Year-long Study of Creative Capital’s Artist Grantees, and Summary of Grantmakers in the Arts Pre-Conference on Individual Artists

Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa’s Creative Capital Artists Look Back: 1999-2015. New York: Creative Capital, April, 2016. Download here:

In a summer 2015 survey of fifteen years of Creative Capital (CC) awardees, respondents (31 percent of all awardees) valued most highly retreats with interdisciplinary cohorts at which they brainstormed their projects and listened to others, often finding collaborators for future projects. Encouraged by CC, half of the respondents aspired to align their work with non-arts fields (e.g., science, social work, health care, criminal justice), and of these, 85 percent succeeded. Some 42 percent now devote more time to building audiences through marketing, branding, paid jobs, and career maintenance, while cutting back on rest and renewal but not on time with family and friends. While 79 percent have increased their incomes, most still struggle to enhance retirement savings. Asked about post-award additional funds they have raised for their artwork, artists reported an average of $257,000. If all awardees (n = 579) raised similar amounts on average, the total raised to date would be nearly $100 million.

Ann Markusen’s commissioned write-up of the Grantmakers in the Arts Fall Pre-conference: “Supporting Individual Artists: Translating Value, Evaluating Outcomes.” Grantmakers in the Arts Reader, Vol. 27, No. 1: Winter.

Intro: At October’s “Support for Individual Artists” GIA preconference, more than six-dozen funders convened to share their experiences supporting individual artists and to ponder how to gauge and communicate the results. The Jerome Foundation’s Eleanor Savage and Tucson Pima Arts Council’s Roberto Bedoya shepherded an agenda that included five artists speaking about their work and careers. After lunch, participants chose topical group conversations, each led by a funder, reporting results in a “Long Table” format. Kicked off by planning committee chair Joe Smoke of Los Angeles’s Cultural Affairs Department, the organizers made the case for the day’s themes of “measuring impact” and “translating value.” In this era of big data, we have become preoccupied with measurement. Some objected to the narrowness of the concept. “Measurement implies numbers,” one participant noted, “and not all or even the best evaluations involve numbers.” Case studies, narratives, open-ended answers on surveys, and the artworks themselves are also ways of charting the results of grants and awards. The word impact also came under scrutiny — one person quipped that it reminds her of an auto accident. Is that really how we conceptualize the creative process? Do artists not bring their own considerable resources to the work and play powerful roles in outcomes?

Markusen honored by high school alma mater and appointed Vice-President of the international Regional Studies Association

Honors, appointments:

Ann Markusen will be awarded the St. Margaret’s Academy Distinguished Alumni Award and be inducted into the 2016 Hall of Honor on February 1 at Benilde/St. Margaret’s Academy.

Ann Markusen appointed as one of six Vice-Presidents of the international Regional Studies Association, November 2015, and is especially delighted to be serving with her long-time colleague and co-author, Clelio Campolina Diniz of Brazil

Winter/Spring talks, panels, teaching:

Arizona State University, Geography and Urban Planning Colloquium, February 29, 2016

3 Million Conference, Arizona State University, Phoenix, March 3-5, 2015

American Association of Geographers’ Annual Meetings, San Francisco, March 29-April 2, 2016, presenting a paper on displacement and placemaking co-authored with Roberto Bedoya, and discussant on two economic development and cultural geography sessions.

Labor and Employment Relations Association, Annual Conference, May 27, Minneapolis, MN, “The Upper Midwest Social Contract: Past, Present, Future”

Markusen to teach the graduate level Arts Organizations and Society course at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Fall semester, 2016

New Publications:

Markusen and Gadwa Nicodemus’ review of successful US city creative industry strategies for the Aspen Institute Prague now published:  Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa Nicodemus. 2015. “City Creative Industry Strategies: Unique American Cases.” Cover Story, Aspen Review Central Europe, No. 4, Fall: 15-19.

Ann Markusen’s work with the International Delta Blues Project, her Lunch and Learn presentation in Clarksdale, and her keynote at the 2015 Winning the Race Conference at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi are now written up, with photos, in the following:


The Future of Work: Exploring the Quality of Work

Ann Markusen’s Pacific Standard article, October 9, 2015, explores the future quality of work, calling for research beyond metrics like labor force participation, unemployment rates, weekly wages, hours worked, and median income. “As workers, we hope that a job will be pleasurable, that we are doing something meaningful, are helping others. We hope for growing expertise and greater accomplishments over time, perhaps more responsibility. Most of us wish for agreeable human contact at work. For competence, training and respect from superiors, and opportunities to cooperate with and learn from others. We search for work that plays to our strengths and what we love to do. And for work environments where we feel safe, including from sexual harassment. We care about the relationship of work to the rest of our lives–for reasonable and reliable work hours, flexible if possible with paid family and sick leave and ample vacation time. Work should not leave us exhausted or debilitated, or worse, sick with an occupational disease or serious injury. Read the whole:


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