image courtesy of paradigmmagazine.com

Can money buy a thriving cultural scene that isn’t just busy in the present, but worth remembering in the future? In a recent BostonAPP/Lab event,InHouse brainstormed with the Boston Public Market, the Trustees of the Reservation and room full of architects, artists, and art supporters to answer this very same question.

According to Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Genius, the answer is right in front of us:

- City-states like Qatar and Dubai are spending sums of money on art and architecture were nearly unimaginable 10 years ago.

- Las Vegas casinos throw gobs of money on artisans and creative endeavors everyday and will continue to decades.

- Disneyland is probably spending more money than the entire Renaissance several times over

Some of the highest generators in revenue dump piles of money into the arts, however they all miss a the 3 very important factors that produce an honest, thriving cultural genius.

The Three D’s

Research suggests that there are three key elements to the creation of a scene likely to create “cultural genius.”

1.) Diversity.

This doesn’t just mean ethnic and racial diversity — though that is a necessity — but it must mean intellectual diversity. The scene must be full of different ideas and ways of thinking that one can bump into and can’t always casually dismiss.

2.) Discernment

“These geniuses are cultivated by us”

Vienna didn’t bump into Mozart and Beethoven by accident; they were created because the society elevated musicians and took a profound pride in whether its music was both high quality and cutting edge. And America didn’t create Steve Jobs by accident; he came out of a time when there was incredible government and industry pressure to enhance technology and make sure that America was never behind on another metaphorical space race.

So, how do we cultivate discernment? Raise the steaks. For centuries, leaders in arts and culture have frequently it resorted to competition. They wanted a clash of ideas, and they wanted the best to succeed. No one was grandfathered in. When the competition is high, people are more likely to pursue a unique or surprising vision, and offer real alternatives to the received wisdom.

3.) Disruption.

After things have been shaken up, greater creativity and a sense of purpose that leads to greater discernment often appear. But it is important to point out, that even greater creativity happens after disruption, not during it. In this sense, disruption is truly a necessity for inspiration

While surely an oversimplification at some level, it’s clear how this structure — Diversity, Discernment, and Disorder — can be used as a guide to understand how money can supercharge culture and art scenes.

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