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PowerPlayer: Arts Advocate Lisa Carnevale

Monday, June 18, 2012


This week’s PowerPlayer is Lisa Carnevale, principal at Myranda Group and a lead advocate for the arts and creative sector. Ms. Carnevale was kind enough to chat with GoLocalProv about her company and the progress the creative sector is making in Rhode Island.

1) Rhode Island seems to only get national headlines for negative reasons, but the truth is we've seen a huge increase in the number of businesses and jobs in the creative industry. Tell us why we're so attractive for that industry.

It is true the creative sector is one of the bright spots for Rhode Island. RI Citizens for the Arts' recent report certainly shows this. The trend since 2007, when we started tracking these numbers through a national study, shows consistent growth: overall, a 52% gain in creative industry businesses and 13% gain in creative industry jobs in the past six years. In this last year, numbers grew by 770 jobs and 460 businesses.

RI has had a strong creative community for a very long time. The colleges and universities are definitely a feeder to this. But what has also happened in the last 10 years or so is that we've become so recognized for our creative culture that creative, innovative people who did not go to school here are relocating to the state because of this. It's a beautiful state, perfectly positioned to major metropolitan areas, with easy access to very cool people doing very cool things -- I think we've found ourselves with a vibrant community, despite the negatives, that's resourceful, innovative and continues to attract.

2) What's the long-term outlook for the creative industry in the state?

What I would like the long-term outlook for creative sector in the state to be is continued growth through intentional investment. And even, dynamic interweaving with other industry sectors to help mutual growth. There's a lot happening in this sector that our state leaders might not understand fully. We've done really well in recognizing the quality of life that art and culture has brought to our state, but we've fallen short in understanding how it positively impacts education, health, and other industries, and with the right resources can impact even more.

Further, we haven't done so well understanding the for-profit creatives and what they can potentially do for us economically. In looking at the report, it includes both nonprofit organizations such as the performing arts and museums, as well as the for-profit creative businesses such as design, film and video. Some of the more impressive gains are in the latter group, and it’s not that surprising. These industries are growing in a number of places, because of the creative, innovative, entrepreneurial thinking of the people that lead them. These small entrepreneurial businesses have the potential to become larger businesses and employers, again with the right opportunity and investment.

Because creative people are largely resourceful by nature (being creative, they can always navigate a problem), I think the sector will always do okay. But if we don't invest in it, the state is missing an opportunity to capitalize on what's going on - here and now in the state - that could put us on the right path to a stronger economy. We don’t really have to go very far – we just need to invest in our natural, organic assets.

3) Take us through a day in your life.

Since I co-founded Myranda Group about a year ago, the days all depend on the time of year and what clients I’m working on. But it always starts with an espresso or latte upon waking. I like to get up to speed on news, responding to email, and "instigating" what needs to happen that day early on. After this point, the day just starts to roll, and can lead to most anything. Meetings, conference calls, working with project partners, brainstorming, outlining strategy, writing materials, connecting with people, and generally, more instigating. Most days end well into the evening, with a work social event or during legislative session, at the state house. On the lighter work evenings, I like to end the day with a walk outdoors and then maybe drinks and dinner with friends or family.

4) What can our leaders do to ensure that we keep our most talented young people in the state?

"Young" is a relative term. At different stages of "young", I think different things need to happen to keep talented people here. Kids just coming out of college have to be able to connect - to jobs, money, people, a social scene, that person that is going to help them with their brilliant idea, etc. At some point, the next stage of "young" involves other necessities - a good education system for their children, access to health care, more money, and maybe even again that person that is going to help them with their (next) brilliant idea. I think the key at all times is: opportunities for growth coupled with high quality of life.

For this, there has to be obvious pathways. If we need to look for these pathways for too long, we get discouraged and might give up. State leaders can help this by clearing the path and making it real obvious – i.e., so entrepreneurs can find capital and mentors, the private sector can connect with graduating students, the feed from academic institutions is more aligned with the local community. Perhaps the best role for government is to be the facilitator - the most focused on creating pathways between everyone. The creative community contributes by helping us maintain a high quality of life through culture and entertainment, though there can certainly be more.

5) Tell us something nobody knows about you.

I'm obsessed with plants, trees, perennials, flowers. It started with putting together flower arrangements, and now I can stop thinking about landscaping. I have said I wanted to own a cut flower farm, but as I get more obsessed, that flower farm has somehow turned into a full-fledged nursery.

Quick Hitters

Role Model: Courageous people with a sense of humor and good dose of humble

Favorite Restaurant: New Rivers, Flan y Ajo, Cook & Brown, Bacaro, I could go on.

Best Beach: Sakonnet Point

Best Book You've Read in the Last Year: Wanderlust: A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solnit

Advice for the Next Lisa Carnevale: Just came by this and think it’s perfect: Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. -- Theodore Roosevelt



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