As Arts and Culture Flourish in Durham, Students Assess the Economic Impact

November 2, 2018

Highlights from the Bass Connections Annual Report

Durham aerial shot.

Has the recent rise of creative industries in Durham led to overall economic growth and community wellbeing? How can we best measure such impacts?

A Bass Connections project team, Creative Industries and the Urban Environment, examined the relationship between urban development and cultural production in specific contemporary and historical contexts, then zoomed in to focus on Durham.

Creative Industries team members working together.

Team members collected and analyzed data on the economic impact of the so-called creative class, as defined by urbanist Richard Florida. Digging into housing values, labor economics, the impact of Spanish-speaking communities, the role of tolerance and diversity in economic development and other topics, they produced five working papers that are being compiled into a published volume of articles. To share findings with the community, they have begun planning a local exhibition in partnership with Durham city government.

Research like ours can affect community engagement and construction in Durham, especially since Durham’s Cultural Master Plan, which outlines the city’s strategies to increase the arts and culture sector, will be revisited in just a couple of years. –Jess Chen ’20

Team members Laura Ritchie (MA in Liberal Studies) and Jonathan Chapman ’18 shared highlights from their team's first year of research by giving a lightning talk at the Bass Connections Showcase in April 2018.

This project, along with six other projects, was supported by the Schiff Bass Connections Fund to support Bass Connections projects that connect broadly to the humanities.

Giving to Bass Connections enabled us to support a growing university-wide program that brings together Duke’s great strengths in research and education while also delivering meaningful outcomes in local and global communities. –Elizabeth T’81, L’85, and James P’14, P’22 Schiff

The Schiffs also support the Schiff Education, Research and Engagement Fund for Bass Connections through the Sanford School of Public Policy.

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