Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Maine’s Creative Economy Model Could Guide the Nation

The Maine Arts Commission Director met with the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Rocco Landesman, and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in Washington Tuesday to discuss the success of Maine’s Creative Economy.

Stories documenting this meeting have appeared in the Portland Press Herald on January 19 and in the Bangor Daily News on January 20. Click the names of these papers to read these articles.
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SMA said...

Maine is an economy in which government jobs are growing faster than private economy jobs, and also has one of the highest numbers of non-profit organizations in the country. In the years that I have been observing and interacting with “the creative economy ”, I have watched the Maine Arts Commission, a tax payer funded government program progressively become open about primarily serving the tax-exempt non-profit sector. The Maine Arts Commission works with an exclusive network of organizations, which includes the Small Enterprise Growth Fund, an investment corporation created by the state legislature in 1995. The legislation does not identify the SEGF as a “corporation” referring to it instead as “the fund”, perhaps because it isn’t constitutional for the state legislature to create corporations. The taxpayer’s invest 10% of the capital in “the fund”, while anonymous private “high growth” investor’s account for the other 90%. Businesses that receive the benefits of “the fund” must have a clearly defined “ exit strategy” because that is how the private investors make their profit, unlike the tax payer investment which just keeps “rolling over” to reinvest in “the fund”- raising the question: “is the tax payer investment a bribe to entice the high growth private investor? The SEGF includes government mandates over businesses that receive the investment but there do not seem to be regulations for the “exit strategy” that would insure that once that strategy kicks in, the jobs remain in Maine. How is the tax payer portion of this funded- much of it comes from taxing the “roll-over” capitalization fund of the general private economy- i.e.- self generated profits of Maine’s businesses, which provide Maine jobs.

Then we have Culture Count, created by the non-profit foundation, The New England Foundation for the Arts, which partners with all the taxpayer funded government arts programs of New England. I ran across Culture Count in 2007. I proceeded to add our art-oriented business to the database, but first I read at the user terms of agreement and then I was shocked into my senses. This user terms of agreement claims unjustified rights over work published on culture count- for all of eternity- no less and requires that the user agree never to sue NEFA for any reason what so ever. It then goes on to praise itself for offering “good samaritan” copyright protection, but only if NEFA feels like doing so- and if you read carefully that all applies to third parties. The language of the contract never says it applies to NEFA, I have been protesting this contract since 2007 but it remains in place and so I have arrived at the conclusion that this term of agreement is as willful and intentional as it is dangerous to the user. - And to our society, if culture count should ever become the model for the rest of the country, as is it’s stated ambition.

This information is all based on private research but when it comes to the SEGF, information is limited because the legislation that formed this corporation, “for the public benefit”, states that “the fund” reports to the legislature, and so, as far as I can tell, that means that the general public can only know whatever the SEGF wants us to know. To my point of view the self designated “creative economy” functions as an overlord society. As a country, we can do better than this model.

SMA said...

and to some with a broader outlook on Maine's economy, people selling beads on the stret ARE a part of Maine's creativity.