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How Cities Can Nurture Cultural Entrepreneurs

13 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2013  

Ann Markusen

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

Date Written: November 2013


Since the Great Recession, North American mayors and city councils have boosted investments in arts and culture as creative placemaking to improve the quality of life, to attract residents, managers and workers, and to welcome visitors. Many city leaders are newly aware that artists bring income into the city, improve the performance of area businesses and creative industries, and directly create new businesses and jobs. Because of extraordinary levels of self-employment, artists often choose cities of residence based on factors other than job and employer locations. Their innovative challenges differ greatly from those faced by scientists and engineers. Artists and related cultural workers tend to fall through the cracks in traditional workforce and small business development programs. As a result, American cities have explored new ways of supporting artists that include space provision, artist-targeted websites and marketing projects, incorporating artistic work into city enterprises, and entrepreneurial training programs tailored to the realities of arts and design as occupations. This policy brief summarizes reasons for and variations in new initiatives to spark cultural entrepreneurship, sampling bottom-up experiments and providing a menu of options for cities of all sizes and character. The brief also counsels city leaders to focus on what is distinctive about their cities, rather than replicating generic strategies elsewhere (e.g. large, expensive arts venues). Via references for further reading, it directs city leaders to various resources for exploring place-appropriate creative entrepreneurship policies.

Keywords: cities, entrepreneurs, cultural, city, startups, business, policy

Suggested Citation

Markusen, Ann, How Cities Can Nurture Cultural Entrepreneurs (November 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Ann Markusen (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs ( email )

301 19th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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