Growth is about luring creative peopleMovies are big business. When they come to a town, they leave a lot of money behind. Leanne Josephson's article in Friday's edition captured the impact of the recent presence of DreamWorks SKG, which filmed The Ring 2 in Astoria and surrounding locations.
Bob Schmaling's comment in Josephson's story ("Don't think art, think economic development.") misses the point in two ways. Schmaling is project manager for the Oregon Film and Video Office.
Art is economic development. Secondly, the film industry is very much about the arts.
In a survey conducted in the summer of 2000, the Western States Arts Federation found that, "Oregon's nonprofit arts organizations employed 3,623 individuals full- or part-time in fiscal year 2000 and paid wages of $54.8 million to those employees." The survey also discovered that, "Oregon is home to 441 nonprofit arts organizations that contributed $100.2 million in direct spending to the Oregon economy in fiscal year 2000."
The arts sector of Clatsop County is highly visible and growing. Numerous galleries - from Astoria to Seaside to Cannon Beach - show the works of local artists. Performing groups are another highly visible element of our local arts economy. Those include theater and music groups as well as annual gatherings such as the Fisher Poets and the Astoria Music Festival.
Economic development these days is less about trying to lure large payrolls and more about nurturing local enterprise while luring creative people who bring their own small businesses. Those creative people respond to the arts, and they look for an arts community as part of their decision to relocate. Richard Florida describes that process in The Rise of the Creative Class.
Movies are the epitome of the creative class. Movies are one of America's biggest exports. Hollywood is one reason that California is one of the world's largest economies.
The arts are a critical element of Astoria's rebirth.