Friday, April 22, 2011

Is More Literature Being Written in Australia?

In The Flight of the Creative Class, Richard Florida argues that new regions around the world are emerging to compete with the U.S. for creative talent. In fact, he shows that the U.S. is showing negative annual growth in 1995, while places like Ireland, South Korea, Mexico, Israel, Turkey, Bulgaria, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, and Germany top out the top ten in creative class growth rates. No doubt that top ten has changed (one can imagine that the drug-related violence in Mexico has damped that trend somewhat). Places like Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands are all increasingly attractive to creative people. The U.S. was already slipping behind in 1995, but since 9-11, we have shut down our borders even more, blocking access to many more creative people who want to come here. This is harming us economically and creatively.

One would expect this to be expressed too in the arts and literature. Do we see more literature coming out of places like Australia and New Zealand? The Lord of the Rings movies were all made in New Zealand, of course, but do we see more literature coming from there? Or Australia? Was there a resurgence in Irish literature during their boom? Creativity tends to generate other kinds of creativity, so one would expect to see more art and literature produced. But is this in fact what we do see? What measures would one use?

At the same time, places with boom economies tend to have higher costs of living, which make being an artist in those areas harder. Artists need cheap places to live. Thus, one would expect those places that have more of a Jane Jacobs-type of urban setting to have more artists than planned urban settings. Do we see this? Does this moderate creative growth? Or contribute to its distribution?

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