Ok so yesterday I got up early, made may way to Manchester, got very rained on and spent the day listening to the great and good talking about Enterprise and Creative places. This was the Cambridge MIT summit. For me this was a day of stimulating and thought provoking talks. Here are some of my observations from the day - there may be more:
Diversity was a key issue that came up again and again, numerous research cited diversity as one of the key drivers for creativity and 'happy' citizens, but at this conference I had to ask the question; where were the black people? Is it okay to ask the question, open up the dialogue about diversity and inclusion to such a homogenous audience. For me I felt acutely aware of the non-inclusivity of academia. I was reminded of very white, male dominated conference I'd been to last year were the 'old' boys network' had been positively tangible. I don't wish to criticise anyone but having just spent the last three years researching organisational diversification and social inclusion in the creative industries I can't help wondering when the wider academic world is going to 'walk the walk'. I cant help wondering how different the debate might have been would have been had the audience and speakers been more diverse. I did speak briefly with Richard Florida about this and it was something he had been aware of throughout the day and commented that the final panel of speakers was also male dominated, with just Kirsty Wark who was ultimately acting as a facilitator.
It was great to hear Anthony H Wilson tell the story of the Manchester music scene. As someone who did their growing up, teen age and student years through this time, I loved hearing his story and felt aware of the strangeness of part of my own experience and a time I felt I really lived through being consigned to history. Not to mention being a Londoner and the whole Manchester music thing being a rather bitter pill to swallow. I remember going to clubs in London who were trying to introduce house music and everyone desperate to have their rare groove and funky beats back on ... we just didn't get it like Manchester did.
I should also say that throughout that time I and many of my friends made regular trips to Manchester just to go to the Hacienda - so Tony thanks for the memories..
I will respond to Richard Florida's speech in a later when I've had more time to digest it all.