Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Creative Vitality in Philadelphia - Telling the Story: World Cafe Live and WXPN

As many of my readers will know, yesterday we released a new study "Creative Vitality in Philadelphia," that looks at the health of our creative sector - for-profit creative businesses, nonprofit arts and culture groups, and individual artists and creative workers.  This research uses something called the Creative Vitality Index, or CVI, that has been developed by a group called the Western States Arts Federation. Because the data is national, aggregating an array of different sources of information, it provides a great vehicle for measuring our creative sector's vitality over time, and also to benchmark ourselves against the nation and other communities. You can access a PDF of the full report here.

The big "take-away" number from the report is that Philadelphia's CVI rating is 1.7, a full 70% higher than the national benchmark of 1.0. The region performs somewhat more modestly - at 1.1 ranking the region 16th out of the top 50 metro areas, though in terms of growth the Philly region has the fifth highest growth rate of the three years covered in the study (06-08). The CVI rating of our nonprofit arts activity is an astounding 500% higher than the national benchmark.

But an important part of the report is also a collection of case studies - the stories of the artists and businesses that make our creative sector sing. And that is a perfect segue to a teaser I would like to share from one of the case studies. This is the story of the brilliant partnership between World Cafe Live and WXPN - in effect the perfect exemplification of the creative economy intersection of for-profit creative business, nonprofit arts and individual artists.

In 1998, when music lover and former real estate lawyer Hal Real first approached WXPN/88.5 FM about joining forces and creating a live music venue, he was hoping to fulfill his dream to “radically change the landscape for contemporary music artists and audiences.” Real was a big fan of David Dye’s widely acclaimed World Cafe show, an eclectic blend of new music, live performances and interviews featuring local and national acts that is broadcast on XPN and heard on 200 stations nationwide. His idea was to create World Cafe Live, a for-profit music venue for grownups that was the physical extension of the experience World Cafe listeners had in their living rooms. At that time, WXPN, which is University of Pennsylvania owned and operated and had been broadcasting since the 1970s from a closet-like studio papered with vinyl records for soundproofing inside a run-down house on Penn’s campus (its support staff worked in another building several blocks away), had outgrown its space and was in need of a new home...

To read the rest of the World Cafe Live/WXPN profile go here. And as a reminder, you can download the full Philly CVI report here. In addition, we invite you to share your own creative industry story at our special website, where you can also sign up to attend a Creative Vitality town hall on January 27th, as well as to stay connected with us through Facebook and Twitter. We'll be selecting and sharing some of the profiles we receive in future reports, as well as online, so don't miss this opportunity to show off the amazing creative work you or your organization does everyday. (Only one submission per business/organization/artist, please.)

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