Public Art was always an important issue for me, though in our economic decline I see now more than ever the potential for public art programs in our cities and how they can lift up communities emotionally, aesthetically and better yet: economically. Let’s get on with it!
Round 5 of my Thesis extravaganza! Enjoy!
Creative Curation: Uniting Public Art and the Theory of Creative Tourism to Increase Boston Arts Exposure
Public Art and Tourism
While it is well and good to discuss public art as its own entity, it is crucial to demonstrate just how powerful these works can be in terms of tourism if an argument is to be made to implement a public art program within a city. While there may be many factors driving tourism to a city, public art and a strong, creative economy are key factors in driving creative tourism and travel.
The travel industry in the United States is a major business, and cultural and creative tourism make up a massive movement that can easily be manipulated and taken advantage of. In 2008 alone, over $84billion was generated in entertainment and recreation tourism and continues to hold those numbers steadily. Though it is not just the amount of money spent in a city due to tourism that is important; the jobs and the economic impact that create the overall health and wellness of a tourist attraction are also substantial. In addition to the $84billion in revenue the entertainment and recreation industry brought in, around $1.3million was travel-generated employment. By supporting creative attractions and programs such as public art, a city can increase state and economic revenue immensely through tourism expenditures and state specific taxes.
The three case cities, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco, each benefits from their perspective public art programs in distinct ways while generating immense economic stimulation as a direct result of their public art. Boston already has a strong historic and sports tourism base, but there is room for significant growth in the creative tourism sector.
Creative tourism is a term describing “travel and visitation activities directed at the arts, heritage, recreational and natural resources” in a visited location61.
It is the latest version, or perhaps subsection, of cultural tourism and has some minor distinctions including a real focus on the arts, as well as engaging in activities that are solely the product of the area, such as regional cooking classes, historic and public art tours, and essentially living within your destination city as if you are a resident. Creative tourism begs for unique cultural experiences and is the best way to connect the tourist to the city in a way that will ensure return visits.
Most importantly, cultural tourism, and creative tourism by proxy, is the fastest growing sector of the travel industry, bringing in $15billion in Massachusetts spending alone.
Cultural tourists are known to have higher levels of income, are often college educated or higher, tend to travel around the visited city (to neighboring boroughs, for instance) for an overall extended stay as compared to other types of tourist, and will spend an estimated $62 more a day and $200 more a trip than other types of tourists. Reason dictates that creative tourists are expected to spend around the same as cultural tourists as many of the destinations and the purpose for the visits overlap. Other important statistics to note include:
~More than 146 million adult travelers in the US yearly,
~81% of these tourists include the arts on trips, historic sites (31 percent), and art museums (24 percent) are among the most popular destinations, and
~cultural tourism (creative tourism by proxy) is projected to be the largest tourism industry in the country in 2010.
As creative tourism relies on a robust regional feel and presence, it is up to the host city to provide an experience singular to that area. The arts are an ideal way to differentiate a city from others while also stimulating the local economy and attracting this wealthy, eager, and interested type of tourist, public art being one of the most cost effective and regionally specific types of art programs a city can implement. Public art essentially acts as a driving force in cultural branding in the collective psyche, which is crucial to increasing tourism; when there is a unique work that defines a city landscape, it acts as a tourist magnet and almost certainly guarantees repeat visits.
It is also important to note where these tourists are frequently coming from. Research estimates that Massachusetts attracts 2.2 percent of America’s travel market, roughly 27.1million people. Of that, about 1.9 million come from outside the United States and 7.5 million come from out of state, most often New England, Pennsylvania and New York. Interestingly, Pennsylvania and New York are cultural hubs in their own right and it is easy to see how Boston can benefits from the shared cultural tourist and creative tourist market visiting from those cities.
If Boston is to compete with these cities and maintain its own market of creative tourists, it will have to provide the same types of attractions they have and give them a unique, Boston twist. Again, public art is the ideal way to do this as it is site specific and brings character to a city landscape as well as a “breath of fresh air” to a community. This will encourage the continuation of “shared tourists” and perhaps an explosion in the creative and cultural tourist market in Boston.
Creative tourism does more than just involve people in the arts; it also acts as a means to allow people to truly identify with the host city on a level that is more personal.
By utilizing public art and public spaces, Boston has the opportunity to bring in tourists looking for a place to experience life as the residents do, while gaining an understanding of the city’s goals, aspirations, and its history.
Art and public art are often nonlinear, allowing for multiple interpretations and remain interesting and intriguing to citizens or varied backgrounds and tastes; public art reaches across cultural and language boundaries and provides a visceral experience with potential to define, not just a physical space, but the viewers emotions and memory. Public art has the potential to draw in creative tourists from across the country and around the globe in a way that other attractions simply cannot. Creative tourists are looking for that special something in a trip and Boston has the opportunity to provide that in spades.
*citation available on request, nerds