Rogue intellect & arts infrastructure

Here is the short formula for those fast readers.

(F+S+A+H+P)*C=Artists/M², where F=Financial Resources, S=Spaces for Arts & Culture, A=Access & Awareness, H=Human Capital, P=Partnerships, and C=Culture of Appreciation.

The formula quote comes from an interview with  Dr. Terry Rock who “is applying systems thinking and big picture ideas to put in place the strategic foundation, political stewardship, and pure enthusiasm that the city’s arts scene needs to thrive.”

He is President and CEO of Calgary Arts Development which is an arts development authority and possibly the only one in Canada. In his words “We have a rich history filled with mavericks and leaders who aspired to change the world.”

He also describes himself as a rogue intellect..and a generalist with a specialty in the application of complex, systemic thinking to collective human undertakings (possibly an “organization scientist,” but that’s way too narrow).

Great to hear of a place where art and business can meet. Just heard that WOMAD is on again in New Plymouth, so I know we have lots of talented artists here – even in the smaller cities but how much support do they really get.

Judging by this glowing and enthusiastic interview the city of Auckland and all cities for that matter could learn from the example of Calgary. This is a city that has exploded from 650,000 people in ’88 to just over 1m now. And they are clearly thinking and developing a city policy on the place of the arts in the city.  Their policy supports passionate generalists as well as applied arts of every kind.

Its not that we don’t have some of this in NZ cities but I get a sense of high energy from the interview that boosted my day and I hope you like it too.

What specifically do you do? How would you describe your leadership style? I drink coffee and have lunch with really cool people. I read as much and as widely as possible (30-40 blogs a day, plus newspapers/magazines), and I enrich the local babysitters by attending 8-15 shows/openings/events a month. All of these things are important to enhance my “absorptive capacity.”

Sounds like a great job. I also checked with a friend of mine who lives in Calgary (after a year or two in Auckland) and “Buddy, Calgary is totally the place to be.” sounds alright!

I spend a fair amount of time in the company of 5 year olds* and I personally love the way they blast full tilt through all elements of learning and doing – almost regardless of what the subject is. Part of my personal mission is to retain that exuberance and belief in the possibilities just waiting to be realised. (*My daughter is 5 and wants to be a paleontologist, film maker/hairdresser – and she adds new interest points all the time.)

All of this comes from one of my most read blog sources called: the Creative Generalist which features lots of great interviews often with advertising industry people if that is not an oxymoron.

Creative Generalist is an outpost for curious divergent thinkers who appreciate new ideas from a wide mix of sources. Completely random and updated regularly, inspiration drawn from – and relevant to – the larger creative world.

Note: Go here for an Essay by John Ralston Saul on Calgary from March 8th, 2006.