Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Warhol Economy book review

From All About Cities comes a review of a book now on my Christmas list.
Top 3 reasons to read “The Warhol Economy”

Preliminary thoughts on Elizabeth Currid, The Warhol Economy: How Fashion, Art and Music Drive New York City (Princeton University Press, 2007). A more formal review will follow in a few days.

Planners, economists, urban politicians, and anyone interested in how cities work — and how the arts work in a city — will find something fascinating in Elizabeth Currid’s new book. Here are three reasons to pick up a copy:

1. To understand the place of New York’s artistic culture in the city’s economy and society.
Currid makes a compelling argument (in Chapter three) that New York’s national and global pull as a city does not come from its finance and business management cluster. Using location quotient methodology and other evidence she illustrates that other cities easily rival New York in their concentrations of management talent. By contrast, New York is unmatched is in the concentration of artists, musicians, fashion industry specialists, and the media industry (writers, illustrators, editors, publishers), what she collectively calls the cultural economy.

She also offers an interesting urban history lesson, illustrating how during times of recession and decline in other areas of the city’s economy in the 1970s and 1980s generated space for artists. Rent became cheap and creativity boomed as artists could live more cheaply. Eventually this outpouring of creativity fostered a vibrant economy that now sets music, art, fashion trends for the world. More recent real estate price increases and gentrification is making it more challenging for the New York arts scene as many cannot afford to live in the city.