Investing in Calgary’s Pride

Artistic and gay communities in our fair city may have new reason for optimism. According to Richard Florida’s influential book, “The Rise of the Creative Class,” there are legitimate economic arguments for increased investment in the arts and gay communities of major centres.

Florida, the Heinz professor of economic development at Carnegie Mellon University, describes the creative class as a fast-growing, highly educated and well-paid segment of the workforce. The presence of a creative class translates into economic innovation in the form of new ideas, new high-tech businesses and regional growth.

This young, versatile population, embedded in a wide variety of industries, from technology to entertainment, journalism to finance, high-end manufacturing to the arts, is attracted by a city with a culture of openness, creativity and charisma that reflects their modern character.

Can Calgary follow New York, San Francisco and Montreal toward a culturally rich atmosphere? The optimism in NUTV Executive Director and Fairy Tales film festival founder Kevin Allen’s voice tells me that it can.

A veteran of the Calgary arts scene and an active member in the gay community, Allen talks about the broad appeal of Fairy Tales.

“Anyone interested in film could take interest in the festival,” he states confidently.

Allen may be equating “anyone” to the creative class Florida cites in his book. The need for a city to have an attractive atmosphere, founded in the local arts scene, ethnic and cultural diversity, outdoor recreation and nightlife is, according to Florida, the key to survival of a twenty-first century metropolitan centre.

The growth of the festival, as well as the level of talent and international flavour of the submissions, seems to prove Florida’s theory. Films like Shake it all About, the biggest box office draw in Scandinavia in 2002, and one of Fairy Tales’ main attractions, show that interest in such films and the festival itself is more than an isolated subcultural phenomenon.

When people ask you why you live in Calgary, wouldn’t it be nice to say, “Because it’s Calgary!”?

It’s about time Bronco and King Klein read Florida’s book. And it’s about time you go see Fairy Tales this week at the Globe Cinema.

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