After an explanation of the Arts Congress, how it came about, its principles by Major Brock, Bossier Mayor Walker introduced Tom Murphy, mayor of Pittsburgh 1994-2005 and now with the Urban Land Institute. Mr. Murphy spoke last night at the Strand Theater, about how the Arts Mean Business. He reiterated his own experiences "in a rundown, rust-belt city" and proudly displayed the success Pittsburgh now enjoys as a result of their embracing the Arts. He also gave other examples of Arts as Business success in Denver, Asheville and Charleston and suggested that more cooperation within the arts community and with government would yield good results for our area's economy and quality of life.
I noted that he included a quote about Pittsburgh from Richard Florida's article in the March, 2009 Atlantic Monthly. Florida's premise is that a critical mass of people is necessary for a creative, thriving economy and that large cities will lead the way. He implores us to change the home ownership paradigm that created suburbia and put into place, tax structures, etc. that will reward those who live in the city, whether renters or apt. owners. Imagine if we abolish the Downtown Development Authority, and the city gives tax credits, etc. to businesses and persons to live and work downtown. SRAC started well a few years ago w. providing one building of low cost housing for those involved in the arts, but sans groceries, hardware stores, etc. downtown, these tenants till have to get into their cars and go elsewhere for their needs. Thus there's no downtown community to attract others who'd enjoy a thriving, lively environment within walking distance.