N. Chautauqua Community Foundation to host annual summit

Submitted Photo by Richard Lovrich Maureen Sager, executive director of the Alliance for the Creative Economy, is the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation annual summit at SUNY Fredonia.

Specialty bakers, craft brewers, performing arts companies, graphic designers, video game developers and artists: what do these vocations have in common? According to the Alliance for the Creative Economy, these careers and many more comprise the “creative industry,” which can have a tremendous impact on local and regional economies.

On Tuesday, Maureen Sager, executive director for the Alliance for the Creative Economy, will be the keynote speaker at the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation’s annual summit at SUNY Fredonia’s Williams Center. Entitled “Creating an Impact: The Creative Economy and Placemaking,” the summit will focus on how to strengthen, support and engage our local creative economy in order to impact our community and economic well-being.

Sager defines the creative economy as that set of economic activity that’s driven by creative content at its core and consists of multiple sectors.

Sager pointed to more obvious sectors, like performing arts and visual arts, along with other sectors that weren’t considered until people began measuring the economic impact of all kinds of creative activity.

“When we expand it and think of all creative content, that includes the design element, which would be architecture, graphic design and landscape architecture,” Sager explained. She went on to include media, the film and television industry, radio and new media. “This includes culinary arts and agriculture, where you have people growing things, making things by hand in the same way that any painter would create their product,” she added.

Sager’s extensive work and experience with ACE involves seeing first-hand the impressive economic impact of creative industries in the greater capital region (the eight counties surrounding and including Albany). Creative industries are the fourth largest employment sector in the region, outranking transportation, amusement and recreation, banking and finance and even higher education. As of January 2018, the creative economy employed 47,282 and generated $1.4 billion in earnings in the capital region.

“People are surprised that we are the fourth largest employment sector,” Sager said. “But they can see that we have a positive and beneficial effect on all the segments of the economy.” She explained that creative endeavors and businesses often fuel construction, renovation, manufacturing, tourism and more.

Importantly, a healthy and growing creative economy is a way to cultivate — and promote — a region’s identity. Speaking of the capital region, Sager said, “Many of the other regions around us have a name and a brand that is recognizable if not nationally, internationally.” She mentioned the Berkshires’ arts and cultural identity, the Adirondacks’ recreation, and the unique history and landscape of Vermont. The challenge, often, is how to discover a region’s own identity, rather than compete or compare with that of other regions.

Sager noted that smaller regions have several advantages that highly populated areas do not. “You can create your own work and work in concert with other people in a way that people in much larger cities can’t always do,” she pointed out. “We sometimes have low self esteem about who we are because we don’t have a name or that ringing tagline that others have.”

The summit will focus on “creative placemaking,” or the way in which a community identifies its artistic, cultural, aesthetic and social assets and incorporates them in community planning and revitalization. Sager added that identifying and taking pride in the opportunities of one’s region gives those in the creative industries an attachment to the area, as well as a desire to attract new talent, new industries and visitors.

Those who work in the creative sector, including artists, freelancers, entrepreneurs, specialty business owners, musicians, art-based organizations and institutions, as well as municipal leaders and representatives, economic development agencies and educational institutions are invited to participate in Tuesday’s summit from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Register online at nccf-led.org.


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