Problem-solving the Creative Economy

Recent Updates

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:


New Career Retrospective: “How Real World Work, Advocacy and Political Economy Strengthen Planning Research and Practice”


Markusen’s commissioned academic career retrospective, “How Real World Work, Advocacy, and Political Economy Strengthen Planning Research and Practice,” the basis for her 2014 Plenary talk at the American Collegiate Schools of Planning annual meetings, was published May 21 on-line by Journal of the American Planning. Available at DOI: 10.1080/01944363.2015.1040053, or by emailing the author for a single copy.

Abstract: From an academic career in economic development planning, the author reflects on values, research styles, and connections to real-world planning and how these translate into change on the ground. Markusen argues that both an evolving normative framework (equity, diversity, democracy, efficiency, stability) and the tools of political economy have helped planners “create good work.” She credits the inclusion, from the 1950s on, of social scientists and other professionals such as lawyers and feminists into the planning academy for producing a vigorous interdisciplinary field. She demonstrates that choosing to focus your research on what bothers you most about planning thought and practice often results in powerful and widely read results and cites cases where advocacy research and outreach, including writing for multiple audiences, has produced positive change. Markusen ends with a reflection on the gifts of colleagueship.


The High Road Wins: Markusen’s Minnesota vs Wisconsin Political Economy in American Prospect article now out!

Ann Markusen’s The High Road Wins: How and Why Minnesota is Outpacing Wisconsin now published in the American Prospect’s 25th Anniversary Issue (Spring, 2015: pp 100-107). Her piece shows how liberal activist and pro-labor state policies have boosted Minnesota’s incomes, median wages, labor force participation, employment growth, lower unemployment rates and fiscal strength compared with Wisconsin’s, a warning to the constituents of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and other Republicans who promise to replicate Governor Scott Walker’s austerity, anti-worker and anti-education strategies. Free digital download of the issue here:



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