AN OPEN LETTER
Good Day Dr. Carr, et al. -
I’ve taken the liberty of sending you this link http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0205.florida.html in the unlikely event that you haven’t yet read Richard Florida’s game changing books.
I once taught at Carnegie Mellon – a renowned research university in the city-of-comparison, employed by Mr. Florida (in the linked article) to illustrate his case about and for the ‘creative classes’. I can affirm, from experience, that Mr. Florida’s observations about Pittsburgh (and aspiring municipalities like, and unlike, it) are right ‘on the money’.
Well before Florida’s books were penned I had the historically serendipitous privilege of hanging out in Palo Alto with a number of the seminal figures who originated the knowledge and wealth creating digital revolution. A now-international phenomenon which had its beginnings on San Francisco Bay peninsula and later moved north to San Francisco and south to the Silicon Valley.
The scene I was privy to (and the intellectual ecosystem wherein these founding-father ‘digirati’ thrived) was richly populated with creative types - visual artists, writers, chorographers, dramaturges and musicians and, of course, the brilliantly science minded. In fact the science and art ‘types’ were, at the time, stylistically indistinguishable from one another. The (informal) interpersonal exchange I witnessed, between science-creators and fine art creators, was highly valued in both allied camps - and shaped thinking on both sides.
I’m of a mind that without this heady and creatively volatile social brew there would have been a much slower ‘arriving-at’ what is now (arguably) the largest international driver of knowledge and treasure.
If, as you claim, the university truly aspires to be “- a strong, comprehensive, research-intensive, - university in this city.” then the university, as a long-time incubator and attractor of the ‘creative classes’, should look – out of self-interest - to ways & means of retaining, attracting and supporting the fine arts (equally) alongside the institution’s demonstrated and growing support of the hard sciences. Art and science together are, and will be, the sparking catalyst of a renewed city and University.
School of Fine Arts