|Entrepreneurism and the Creative Class|
Guardian National Correspondent
Published: Jul 14, 2012
How can creativity help grow a vibrant city of critical thinkers – especially in a city that doesn’t value or encourage entrepreneurism that ventures beyond vending phone cards?
Following their panel on design and sustainable development last month, tmg* talks, led by the strategy and design agency the method group (tmg*), returns with their second installment in a three-part series of thought-provoking discussions that examine how the creative class impacts city life. This time, the panel – held at a new location of Custom Computers Ltd. in Harbour Bay on Thursday, July 19 – will focus on “Entrepreneurism and the Creative Class”.
For this discussion, says panel moderator and branding specialist at tmg*, Royann Dean, the focus will encompass how the creative class and can realize their entrepreneurial ventures in a city with few resources to assist those visions.
“I see the creative class as being an underserved community here,” said Dean. “It’s not functioning as well as it could. I know we have a small market but it’s hard for people we consider creative to make a living.”
“They aren’t really valued in the same way as a lawyer or doctor is valued,” she added. “So there’s no drive to diversify the pool of operations. There should be a push to demonstrate the value of those traditionally creative industries to the economy.”
The creative class is the key to future economic growth in The Bahamas. In cities all over the world – such as Detroit, Michigan and Nantes, France – whose singular economies have collapsed, creative thinkers have moved in to revive and redefine local economy through creative ventures, bringing new life to stagnant cities.
Indeed the defining trait of the creative class, points out Dean, is that ability to use ideas to shape society, which is what makes them so vital to cities. It includes artists, gallery owners, architects and the like, but also engineers, designers and entrepreneurs, who all commodify ideas and encourage us to think differently about our spaces and ourselves.
“If you are living in a creative environment, you tend to be open to new things, you tend to be open to diversity and building a better environment and collaborating to solve bigger problems,” said Dean. “We need to have support to value this type of thinking – this is how industries get developed.”
In a city like Nassau, support for these ventures, especially through funding and education, are sorely lacking, points out Dean. The panel will help to identify these needs, the few resources available to creative thinkers with ideas-based commodities, and brainstorm how the Bahamian community can expand the resources to encourage creative thinking. Such a move would be highly beneficial at a time of global economic distress, and help Bahamians think beyond the one-dimensional and unsustainable tourism economy.
“If you have a business that is an ideas-based business, it’s more difficult to demonstrate what your income flow is because it’s based on an intangible exchange,” said Dean. “If you are a creative entrepreneur, you are not only the vehicle for selling the product but you’re actually also creating it, and you may not have the training and support to sell your service.”
“There are no resources readily available to help you figure out how to do you what you need to do in order to make a sale for your product or service,” she continued. “For people who have these businesses or concepts that have not already been done, I want it to be identified where they go to get the support and funding they need. And that will come from our speakers.”
On the panel is young entrepreneur Jaime Lewis, founder of Islandz. Offering cell phone skins with designs by local artists, USB drives featuring local flair, as well as most recently tours of art galleries and spaces in downtown Nassau, Islandz is a perfect example of local creative entrepreneurism. Lewis will be able to shed light on the inception of the project and its importance to society and the economy.
Joining him will be Edward Rolle, fund administrator of the Entrepreneurial Venture Fund and Chester Cooper, the chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, to speak on resources already available to entrepreneurs desiring to get their business off the ground.
In a first for tmg* talks, panelist Dr. Basil Springer, project manager of the Barbados Business Enterprise Corporation, will join the discussion via Skype from our Caribbean neighbor Barbados. Such a move places the discussion in a regional context and examines how regional models like those in Barbados can be put in place to benefit Bahamian communities.
“In Barbados, they have a fund – the Barbados Entrepreneurial Fund – and what they do is hold a lot of seminars with international speakers for a resource to entrappers,” explains Dean. “Their objective is to make Barbados the best place to do business in the world by 2020. So they have a long-term vision for what they want their people to do. How do we start to encourage that?”
“It’s a big deal to bring someone else from another island that seems to be doing something we need to be doing here,” she adds. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel – when we look at another country in the same region that is doing something we should be doing, let’s look at it and adapt it to our city.”
Indeed, The Bahamas is in almost dire need of this kind of long-term planning that creative thinkers and entrepreneurs can help create – if given a chance. The panel next week by tmg* talks will not only allow panelists to provide their insight, but also participants to share their input, hopefully sparking future collaborations and strides made in creating the kind of exciting and vibrant creative environment they’d like to see in Nassau.
“These conversations allow for knowledge transfer – and not in a formal way,” said Dean. “These conversations allow people from different industries to talk to each other and exchange ideas and form collaborations. That’s how you change things and see possibility.”
“Entrepreneurism and the Creative Class”, a panel by tmg* talks, will be held at Custom Computers Ltd. in Harbour Bay on Thursday July 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.