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By 2050, nearly 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities. With rapidly-expanding borders and an intensification of real estate development creating large and diverse populations, the “magic” of creative economies is a way to unify communities and enhance citizens’ quality of life.

At Inventures the “unconference” hosted in Calgary, thought leaders from across North America in creative arts held a panel discussing the need to define what a creative economy is and how cities benefit from arts-based economic development.

The panel defined a creative economy as the use of the creative sector to improve the livelihood of individuals through culture and recreation. The creative sector encompasses a variety of activities from traditional art forms such as music and film, to newer forms of creativity including media and software design. Fashion, gaming, festivals, food—even craft beer—also contributes to creative economies.

Also discussed was how creative economies can support other industries including life sciences, technology and energy. This is especially relatable to Calgary, where we have a workforce that is highly educated in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and we’re seeing emerging partnerships between the arts and science. Beakerhead, a Calgary organization that brings people together at the crossroads of art, science and engineering, demonstrates that collaborations between art and science work to effectively communicate and engage the community in complex issues and innovations.

Creative economies are also beneficial for their long-term contribution and ability to adapt to a changing environment. For example, since the first Canadian films were produced in the late 1800s, the film and television industry has become one of the largest industries in the world. This industry is projected to grow exponentially as media platforms and content become more globally accessible.

“We have a sustainable business that will give us long-term return in this province and in this economy,” says Luke Azevedo, Commissioner, Film, Television & Creative Industries and Chief Operating Officer at the Calgary Film Centre. 

Calgary invested six million in the creative economy in 2018 and plans to boost that number to 16 million by 2022.  This supports more than 4,000 creative-industries businesses in Calgary and more than 50,000 people employed in Calgary’s creative industries sector. Creative economies work on multiple levels to enhance quality of life and to solve problems for cities. This includes supporting tourism marketing and showcasing diversity.

One of many thought-provoking sessions at Inventures connecting entrepreneurs and start-ups with venture capitalists, angel investors, service providers and thought leaders. Inventures will return to Calgary next year from June 3 to 6, 2020.

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