Manchester’s Creative Economy

By Liz Hitchcock

Creative workers have traditionally included artists, musicians, writers, and performers—you know, those quirky people some consider to be artsy-fartsy. They might have extra tattoos and crazy piercings, or maybe they go around reciting monologues for their upcoming play. Well hold on to your hats, because you might be one too!

With the explosion of idea-driven professions, the definition of creative workers now includes computer programmers, publishers, web designers, architects and many, many more professionals.

Think about it. If you work at a medium size company or larger, you probably work with a creative worker. Marketers? Programmers? Design Engineers? These folks comprise a broad collective now being referred to as the Creative Economy—that is, that sector of our economy that is based upon ideas.

You maybe wondering why this matters to you. Well here’s the most obvious reason— you might be one! Just because you hold a 9-5 job for The Man doesn’t mean you’re not a creative. Indeed, if you use your noggin for generating knowledge with creativity and innovation, you’re a part of our creative economy!

And our local creative economy is important. In addition to building and sustaining communities, the arts and other creative endeavors are an economic force that cannot be ignored.

Yeah, if you attract more businesses, you’ll have more jobs, which will help revitalize the downtown. If you revitalize the downtown it starts to become a cultural destination and that brings more tourists, who want more businesses, bring their own businesses or their employment to Manchester, revitalizing the downtown even more!

Ok, that’s great! Now how can you add more arts and culture to our city? First and foremost, go out and take advantage of the existing cultural institutions.

Have you been to The Currier Museum (I mean since you were in grade school)—well they’ve got great programs going on all the time to attract people to come, and visit. Have kids? Go to a story time. Interested in learning more about the collection? Take a docent led tour. Want an inspirational spot for a cup coffee? Head over for some joe at the Winter Garden.

When was the last time you saw a show at the Palace, the Majestic or the Dana Center? We have venues that are currently creating and producing great theater, music and dance. On any given night in Manchester you can catch a youth show of the story of Hansel and Gretel, enjoy an evening with Garrison Keillor, or catch some classical Chinese dance, just to name a few.

Enjoy some art—three times a year we have Open Doors Manchester where many downtown arts galleries open their doors to the public, serve some vino and cheese and show you their collections. But don’t wait for Open Doors Manchester, go today! These galleries are free to visit and by visiting you can start to get a feel for a lot of the local arts scene. Even better, visit the New Hampshire Institute of Art galleries. You’ll find a lot of those “traditional artists” being cultivated right here in our home town.

Now that you’ve visited these places you probably have built up an appetite. Go out to dinner, maybe you have family in town— have them stay at a hotel. Arts and culture currently bring in over one million visitors to our city. When those visitors find a downtown that is vibrant and inviting they, just like you, spend money. As direct contribution back to our community you’ll find government revenue via the Rooms and Meals Tax, but the jobs that these diners create are a huge part of adding to our economy, too. From arts and entertainment bringing more visitors downtown to adding to our tax base, the creative economy is working for every citizen of Manchester!

About the author

For the last 10 years Liz has held jobs in the technology professions, including: web development, application development, sales engineering, and management of sales and marketing for an enterprise technology service.   In 2010 she had her first child and since then she has taken on the duties of CEO of 6-three-three. Currently she’s working with an early stages start-up and a fully matured project (both of which need a little hand holding sometimes). No project is too small, no job too menial for this CEO.  Occasionally Liz will take on consulting work in technology to stay sharp.

When she’s not running 6-three-three Liz is immersed in the arts scene in and around Manchester.  Currently she is on the steering committee for the New Hampshire Creative Communities, a member of the Currier’s Advisory Board, a member of the Entrepreneur’s Foundation (an initiative of NHCF) Grant Committee, and co-collaborator of the Arts and Culture Day for Leadership Greater Manchester.  Past involvement includes being the Chair of the Manchester Arts Commission and a Big Sister for Big Brother’s Big Sister’s of Manchester.

Liz lives in Manchester with her husband, Jeremy, and son, Matthew.

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