Creative Talent in Relation to the City: The Case of Calgary

CreativeTalennReltoCity Langford Li Ryan 2010.pdf
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Currently under review by City, Culture and Society, this article by Langford, Li and Ryan (yours truly) is a culmination of the work conducted between 2006 and 2008 on the attraction and retention of creative talent in the Calgary CMA.

Instead of understanding ‘creative’ talent contributions statistically through education, job classification, income, and economic growth, this paper qualitatively explores creative workers’ attitudes about the city in which they pursue a career. This paper reports on 28 factors of attraction and retention of creative talent in Calgary, a natural resource-based centre in Canada studied in the years 2006–2008. The data were drawn from interviewees responses to questions about attitudes toward the city as a place to work and about possible moves to alternative locations, in the context of a study of the social dynamics of innovation from the city perspective.

The main lesson from this study and our observations is this: motives are complex, revealing individual patterns of thought. It appears that a balance of personal factors and individual perceptions determines each interviewee’s overall expressed attitude about attraction and retention in the CMA.

Excerpts of quotes by interviewees:

“[For artists], we really have that maverick Calgary attitude… of ‘let’s just do it!’ That is unique to Calgary.”
“…it’s the boom – it’s the boom philosophy, the pioneering spirit… we try, we will! We do have an abundance of heart in this town…corporate support… citizen support… “
“It’s all about keeping your relationships open in Calgary. If you’re a little bit of an extrovert and you’re smart, you should have no problem networking yourself into never having to worry about work.”
“Calgary is a place where there is an opportunity for anyone. That said, I think that the scale of urban growth is causing a divergence… causing a gulf between the rich and the poor…homelessness is the paradox of prosperity. The economically and socially disenfranchised can’t keep up with the increasing costs…”

Would love to hear what you think! 

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