The New West Creative Economy – Just talk or can it be real?

Wyoming Community Media (WCM) is embarking on a great little adventure by taking a stab at developing the New West Creative Economy in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Traditional “economic development” basically brings together elements of commerce and industry to come up ways of increasing the economic base with primary “value added” type jobs – making stuff; as opposed to the “service sector” which don’t really add value, but maintain value. Traditionally, arts and education are viewed as “add-ons” and reasons why a new employee would want to relocate to a given community.

The New West Creative Economy wrote a “white paper” in 2009 outlining how this all might be rolled out. There was a community gathering which resulted in author Daniel Pink eventually coming to Cheyenne in 2010. Download a copy of their paper by clicking on the logo.

The New West Creative Economy takes a little different approach and asks, what if arts and culture were integral parts of economic and community development in terms of developing a labor force that uses their entire brains, not just the left or right side?

With nothing much than an academic idea and some equity from the Wyoming Arts Council, WCM hopes that the initial strategic partnerships with Laramie County Community College, The Wyoming Film Office, The City of Cheyenne, Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine, Visit Cheyenne and LightsOn Downtown Group will be enough impetus to grow the collaboration in response to the New West Creative Economy’s basic premise.

The New Creative Economic paradigm shift, by Howard Major, and Maryellen Tast of Laramie County Community College

There are six goals:

  • Create community development in Southeast Wyoming by creating synergistic actions by individuals and groups promoting cultural development, economic development and educational development.
  • Facilitate a dialog about how all concerned residents can contribute to the growth and diversification of the South eastern Wyoming economy through continuing economic development and synergistic infusion of the cultural arts and PK-20 education.
  • Capture the wisdom of community developers who have merged cultural arts and economic and educational development in other regions of the country and apply those development concepts that are a good “fit” for Southeastern Wyoming.
  • Create and complete innovative projects that expand and develop Wyoming’s cultural and economic environments.
  • Develop new regional organizations and partnerships that promote the advancement of culture, education and high-tech industries.
  • Contribute to the role of cultural and educational organizations in community and economic development.

Daniel Pink, author of “A Whole New Mind,” appeared in Cheyenne to discuss the meaning and possibilities of an economy in which creative thinking becomes more dominant.

The key to getting the new west creative economy off to a good start is acceptance by the private sector. There are plenty of academics talking about this, lots of non-profits trying to hang their hats on it, and a few businesses accepting it. But the bottom line is this. The only reason this will become acceptable is if it results in not just job creation, but additional profits.

The New West Creative Economy is basically a think tank established by Laramie County Community College.

LCCC is taking this seriously, having brought in Daniel Pink to get everyone jazzed up about how right brained people will save the economy. The Wyoming Arts Council held an apres Pink talk back the next morning, which is ultimately what spurred on the WCM project.

The WCM project is a pilot project to use the “transmedia” story telling model by cross-utilizing traditional print media, photographers, videographers and web designers to help the private non-profit and for profit sectors become more relevant in the digital age.

Are we talking about a new type of “activist”?

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