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Richard Florida was the keynote speaker at a Creative City Regions conference in October, hosted by the Dublin Region Authority and the Dublin Employment Pact. (Info on the conference here)

Florida‘s presentation didn’t say anything he hasn’t said before, but the North American, evangelical-influenced delivery was extremely impressive. He is at points very persuasive in his thesis of what the ‘Creative Economy’ is and what it needs. He paraphrased the conference chair in his diagnosis of the ‘Knowledge Economy’ (old hat terminology now) as being “the last gasp of the industrial age”.

However, while the conference was eager to attach Florida’s prestige to the proceedings, the presentations that followed him (in his absence, having jetted off to another conference) showed a notable difference in their opinions/ agendas. The talk was all about the Knowledge Economy, not the Creative Economy: even the DRA website fudged the issue by describing the conference as addressing ‘the creative knowledge economy’.

Florida himself is part of a broader trend in culture where economics is becoming ‘pop’: described as a public intellectual (and he has earned a PhD so I don’t wish to imply he is in any way underqualified), his manner of delivery draws on that of the motivational speaker, informed by the legacy of North American television and evangelicism.  

In Ireland, Eddie Hobbs and David McWilliams have become similarly vocal pundits in the national media, particularly McWilliams, whose economic background has seeped into a large scale social trendforescasting. He is particularly fond of coining neologisms (Breakfast Roll Man, Decklanders, the Pope’s Children, etc – see his books and TV programmes, The Pope’s Children and The Generation Game). From this perspective, the field of economics is undeniably more enmeshed in mainstream popular culture than it has previously been.  

Richard Florida visited Ireland in October 2007.

See www.creativeclass.com and www.creativeclass.typepad.com

A full report on the conference will be published in the Visual Artist’s Newsheet, January 2008 

Image held here

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