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Implications for Social and Cultural Policy

Competing for Talent: Implications for Social and Cultural Policy in Canadian City-Regions

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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A report prepared for the Department of Canadian Heritage (Competing for Talent: Implications for Social and Cultural Policy in Canadian City-Regions) provides a balanced overview of Florida’s arguments and those of his critics. The report points to the “dangers of a quick and careless translation of the talent model into public policies”. In particular, “surface-level place marketing may have the potential of glossing over the essential investments required to maintain and enhance a creative city.” The authors also caution that “the ‘authenticity’ and ‘cultural vitality’ sought by the talent class may be difficult for cities to create.” In addition, with many artists living below the poverty line, “it is ironic to laud the virtues of a high bohemian index rating without devoting adequate resources to maintain and develop it.”

The report highlights some themes that are underdeveloped in Florida’s research, including “gender and life cycle issues, and the relationship between high-tech metropolitan growth on the one hand and income inequality, racial segregation and social capital on the other.” An argument is made for “a more qualitative analysis of the culture and the talent class in North American cities”.

The authors note that policies at the intersection of the talent model and social policy include anti-exclusion, cultural planning and social inclusion. An example is immigrant integration: “The Conference Board of Canada has estimated that if all immigrants were employed to the level of their qualifications, an additional $4 billion of wages across the country could be generated.” Supportive policies for immigrant integration include internship programs, mentoring opportunities, job-shadowing opportunities and co-op placements. In addition to immigrant integration, other relevant policy areas include urban revitalization and historic preservation.

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