How the Arts and Culture Sector Catalyzes Economic Vitality

Arts and Culture Briefing Papers 5

By Mary Dwyer, Kelly Beavers, Kimberley Hodgson



Terms such as "creative economy," "creative class," and "cultural economy" are becoming more common among urban planners, arts administrators, economic developers, and business and municipal leaders. These terms reference a variety of types of jobs, people, and industries, including the sectors of visual, performing, and literary arts, as well as applied fields like architecture, graphic design, and marketing. Whatever label is used, this use of terminology linking culture and the economy indicates recognition of the connections among the fields of planning, economic development, and arts and culture.

The activities of the arts and culture sector and local economic vitality are connected in many ways. Arts, culture, and creativity can

  • improve a community's competitive edge
  • create a foundation for defining a sense of place
  • attract new and visiting populations
  • integrate the visions of community and business leaders
  • contribute to the development of a skilled workforce


Page Count
Date Published
March 1, 2011
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

Mary Dwyer

Kelly Beavers

Kimberley Hodgson
Kimberley Hodgson, MURP, MS, AICP, RD is the founder of Cultivating Healthy Places, an international consulting business specializing in community health, social equity and sustainable food systems planning. As a certified planner and health professional, her work focuses on conducting policy-relevant research and providing technical assistance to the public and private sectors related to the design and development of healthy, sustainable places. Hodgson served as co-investigator of a $3.96 million grant awarded to the University at Buffalo by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Food Systems Program. The project, Growing Food Connections, generated knowledge about the effectiveness of local and regional government policies in improving food security in underserved communities, strengthening the resilience of rural communities, and supporting the economic viability of food production. She is the author of Planning for Food Access and Community-Based Food Systems and co-author of Urban Agriculture: Growing Healthy Sustainable Places. Ms. Hodgson holds an undergraduate degree from New York University in pre-medicine, a Master of Science in food policy and applied nutrition from Tufts University, and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning with a specialization in community health and sustainability from Virginia Tech.