A Plan for Cultural & Economic Development in Broward County
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CreativeBROWARD 2020, a plan for cultural and economic development, was made possible by the leadership and support of the Broward County Board of Commissioners and the more than 100 community leaders who served on the Steering Committee and three Task Forces for over a year. Their commitment and efforts, with the able assistance of Broward Cultural Division staff, have laid the foundation for Broward’s next stage of cultural and economic advancement. Sensitive to the challenges presented by the County’s economic climate, Creative Broward has successfully engaged the community and created a responsible vision for cultural development.
Integrating cultural and economic development throughout Broward County, and based on the understanding that culture is a local resource and an economic asset, the plan draws on the unique diversity of its residents in the upcoming decade. Broward’s evolving culture will generate substantial new economic benefits, greater connections among its residents, and a distinctive community identity. Culture and the arts are unique in that they operate at the intersection of quality of life and economic development. Investment in local cultural and artistic development results in economic well-being, provides a competitive edge based on our uniqueness and local human capital and is a natural part of the growth of a community.
This bold vision is based on Broward’s many past accomplishments in expanding its cultural life and infrastructure. Grounded in the diversity of the county’s population and culture, the vision embraces change and reflects the evolving role of culture in the community.
Broward Cultural Dashboard
What is the status of Broward’s cultural sector? In brief, it has grown over the past 25 years from the concept of a “cultural wasteland” into a thriving cultural community, largely as the result of the County’s leadership and strategic investment. This development, coupled with major changes in the economy, the population and the culture, demand new responses.
Broward’s culture is now the creative economy. Broward’s creative sector is composed of small businesses that represent a major economic engine for Broward County. Broward has 5,297 creative businesses, with 64,187 employees, generating total earnings of $2.25 billion. Within this overall creative economy, the County’s modest investment in approximately 100 of its nonprofit cultural institutions ($4.5 million in 2008) has been leveraged into $67 million in direct expenditures in the economy, employing more than 1,800 people.
Broward’s cultural strengths are broader than the traditional measure of “symphony, opera and ballet.” Reflecting the diversity of its population, Broward’s culture is highly participatory, encompassing a wide range of arts and cultural interests. This plan’s random household telephone survey demonstrates that virtually every Broward resident regularly engages in personal cultural activities, including reading books, taking photographs and dancing. Half of Broward’s residents practice cultural traditions passed down through the generations, such as music, food and dance.
Broward has successfully leveraged public/private partnerships to fill community cultural needs. For example, unlike many other counties, including Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, Broward County owns and operates no cultural facilities, utilizing partnerships, a bellwether strategy for sustainability in the new economy.
At the same time, Broward faces new challenges in cultural development. The severe economic downturn has created financial and social stresses for all of Broward’s communities. The passage of Florida’s Amendment 1 in 2008 placed strict and ongoing limits on the ability of local government to provide the services that its residents value and expect. And ongoing changes in the ways that people participate in cultural activities necessitate new ways of delivering cultural services to meet the needs of the public.
Despite the vitality of its creative sector, Broward’s nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are under-capitalized. These nonprofits are highly market-driven, with a greater reliance on earned income and a relative scarcity of contributed dollars than the national average. In addition, County funding for arts and culture is substantially lower than its peer agencies. In a 2008 comparison with seven other urban counties, Broward’s funding levels were lowest, in terms of per capita and total spending.
Building on Success
The Broward County Board of Commissioners created the Broward Cultural Council in 1979 to play a leading role in cultural development. This commitment continues today in the County’s core goals for Cultural Amenities and Recreation: Something for Everyone. The County made strategic investments recommended by the Broward Cultural Division (BCD), and the Council has overseen the outcomes: three remarkable decades of cultural progress throughout the county. BCD is in the top tier of US local arts agencies, demonstrated by awards and receipt of highly competitive funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, making the most of limited resources through effective partnerships and innovation. This record has resulted from recognition by County leadership that arts and culture are not a luxury, but a necessity. Government’s role has been to protect and develop its cultural resources to maintain community well-being.
CreativeBROWARD 2020 is Broward’s third cultural plan, sponsored by the Board of Commissioners. These successive ten-year plans have targeted the County’s investments in effective cultural development based on the community’s voice. Achievements include: the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District, the ArtsParks, the arts incubator at ArtServe, the Cultural Information Center, a cooperative marketing program, the Sailboat Bend Artist Lofts, and the Broward County Historical Commission’s new home. Broward County has also developed a nationally recognized public art program.
Community Benefits of Arts and Culture
Why do cultural planning in a recession? Because it organizes effective policy responses to change and generates increased community benefits from a challenging environment.
Communities are increasingly aware that they are in competition with one another. To achieve economic growth and stability, there is competition for business relocations, for involved citizens, and for young and talented professionals. As Dr. Richard Florida notes in The Rise of the Creative Class, “There is a whole new class of workers in the U.S. that is 38 million strong: the creative class. At its core are the scientists, engineers, architects, designers, educators, artists, musicians and entertainers, whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technologies, and new content.” His research documents the tendency of the members to place a higher priority on where they live, rather than for whom they work. They prefer to live in creative communities, with the cultural and recreational amenities that complement their creative lifestyles.
The South Florida region is one concentration of creative class members and in Broward County there are growing numbers of creative jobs and businesses. The 2010 Creative Industries in Broward County study reported four-year growth of 12% in employment and 36% in the number of creative businesses. CreativeBROWARD 2020 identifies ten creative industries with demonstrated growth potential, despite the recession. Broward County’s 2010 Targeted Industries Study also validates Global Media and Production as one of the top ten new industry clusters.
Involvement in arts and culture benefits the community beyond the economic sphere. Numerous studies conducted over the past 30 years have demonstrated that active participation in, and exposure to, the arts have positive impacts on the lives of children and young people. They do better educationally, have greater tolerance for diversity, volunteer more, and are more employable.
Similarly, adults who actively participate in their cultural interests are more likely to vote, volunteer their time, contribute to charity and be active in their communities. In a diverse society such as Broward, arts and culture are also an essential common ground. They foster improved cultural understanding, tolerance and civic engagement among all ages. The personal, everyday cultural expression by residents is the foundation on which Broward’s culture is based, and on which a portion of its economic future rests.
CreativeBROWARD 2020 provides a roadmap for Broward to continue development of its vital creative sector. It will foster economic growth among its creative businesses, nurture civic engagement by its citizens, and positively engage its youth. Without the County’s continuing leadership and support, the creative sector will shrink. Broward County must develop and increase its competitive market share of a growing trend of creative small businesses, which have been increasing in number and employment through the Great Recession. Cultural facilities will have increased competition from casino entertainment in the County. Broward County must compete with Miami-Dade and Palm Beach to attract and retain local residents and visitors who make Broward their first choice for their cultural engagement.
CreativeBROWARD 2020 responds to these circumstances by defining a new paradigm for arts and cultural development. The goal is to best serve the cultural interests of residents and visitors, as a means to enliven the civic, economic and cultural vitality of the community. This reflects the belief that arts and culture are assets with the intrinsic ability to generate community value, including economic value. Rather than “The arts deserve support,” we now say, “Arts and culture build community value.”
The plan includes three goals to fulfill the community’s vision for a Creative Broward:
I. Collaborative and Self-reliant: Enhancing the capacity of individual creatives, and creative businesses and nonprofits, to prosper with better tools, new approaches and partnerships. There are recommendations for economic development, cultural tourism, marketing and audience engagement, leadership development, and advocacy.
II. Sustainable and Resourceful: Strengthening the cultural ecosystem to better reflect and support a unified creative sector. There are recommendations for restructuring, financing, spaces and places, County policy, and success measures.
III. Inclusive and Celebratory: Strengthening connections among Broward County’s people and communities through their cultural expressions. There are recommendations for festivals, cultural participation, arts education, and public art and design.
CreativeBROWARD 2020 addresses areas of special focus, integrated into the overall plan and summarized in separate chapters: the creative economy, cultural tourism and public art and design.
CreativeBROWARD 2020 calls for organizing economic development of the creative industries for the first time as a unified cultural sector. The commercial and nonprofit, individual and organizational, fine and popular arts, culture and heritage—these formerly disparate elements are all assets to be leveraged for greater economic impact. Providing new tools and services will better enable the cultural innovation that drives economic growth of the sector. This includes forging stronger ties with the business community and creating a Business Committee for the Arts.
The plan calls for a new, signature international festival of creativity, combining high profile, curated events with a longer, self-selected “Fringe Festival.” This festival proclaims that Broward has its own cultural identity, built on an international reputation for excellent public art and design and founded on the county’s diversity and creativity, one that will evolve with the interchange of local and global projects.
CreativeBROWARD 2020 makes recommendations to enhance the sustainability of the creative sector and the Broward Cultural Division. Research conducted through public opinion polling and reviewing best practices throughout the nation suggest creating new revenue sources for the creative sector through a dedicated Quality of Life tax initiative, similar to the initiative that established the Children’s Service Council of Broward County, and an increase in the Hotel Occupancy Tax to fund cultural tourism. There are significant capital infrastructure needs and current County allocations for arts and cultural grants, programs, and staffing are inadequate to meet current and future demands for cultural services. A study of seven comparable local county arts agencies identifies an average per capita arts expenditure of $30.98. By comparison Broward County, at an astonishingly low cost of $2.57, has been able to successfully engage the community and successfully create a fiscally responsible vision for cultural development. Yet as we can celebrate that success, we need to introduce and establish a reasonable target for expansion of available resources through new funding mechanisms to take arts and culture to the next level of quality necessary for economic development and continued growth.
A related long-term recommendation is to relocate the County’s Cultural Division outside of county government. The Broward Cultural Division has flourished as a unit of county government since its creation by the Board of County Commissioners. Now, in an era where county budgets face structural limitations, a county cultural agency has less capacity to adapt to the increasingly rapid pace of change. Creating an independent cultural development authority, through the blessing and assistance of the County Commissioners, will provide the flexibility and support required to implement the vision embodied in this plan. The comparison study illustrates how “4Culture,” in King County, Washington, is a useful model because it provides a nimble organization with financial stability. This has been achieved, in part, by enabling “4Culture” to create a $28 million endowment which will sustain it through periods of diminished resources.
Community Planning Process
The community generated most of the ideas for this plan, through a nine-month outreach process involving more than 1,000 people. A range of relevant local plans and studies, including VisionBROWARD, provided invaluable suggestions and background. A random household telephone survey gauged opinions representative of the county’s entire population. In some cases, lessons have been drawn from comparisons to other communities and adapted for use in Broward.
Reflecting current resource constraints, the implementation plan includes realistic short-term items, many of which draw on current programs and initiatives in County government and the community. In the first two years, the plan calls for no new County spending and modest private investments to leverage change. To provide more visionary direction, the plan also identifies long-term recommendations that would require greater preparation and resources. While working with estimated costs at the present time, in the third and following years, implementation expenses in the short term will include at least $375,000 in reallocation of current County funds, such as cultural tourism and public art.
The Voice of the Community is Clear
We need to reinvigorate arts and culture programs countywide; continue to nurture growth of local arts and cultural resources, invest in needed infrastructure to accommodate demand in this sector and related sectors of the economy; and establish a cultural endowment trust fund.