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Broward Panel Connects The Arts Economy In The Caribbean, LatAm And South Florida

creative economy
Caitie Switalski
Javier Hernandez-Acosta presents on the creative economy in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and strageties for economic growth of the arts industries, Wednesday at the Broward County Convention Center.

Arts and culture translate into big business  that can bring a region millions - or even billions - of dollars in economic impact. 

Experts call it an area's creative economy, or as a 2013 book from the Latin American Bank IDB calls it, the Orange Economy. The color orange has historically been connected to creativity, leadership and culture.

As part of Broward County's annual international trade expo on Wednesday, a panel of government officials and creative economy experts talked to about 20 people about the close ties between the creative economy In The Caribbean and Latin America and creative industries in South Florida.

"We're almost intertwined,” said Phillip Dunlap, director of the Broward County Cultural Division. ”We're almost an extension of those cultures, of those economies." 


According to a 2017 study by the national nonprofit Americans For The Arts,  Broward County's economy benefits from around $414 million in spending by nonprofits arts and culture organizations.  For comparison, the Marine Industry is estimated to be worth nearly $9 billion in the county.

Dunlap said Broward wants to keep building its arts sector.

"I feel like the creative economy and arts and culture, specifically in Broward County, are really poised for growth," said Dunlap. "We've been very sandwiched, I think, over the years between Miami, between Palm Beach and are kind of searching for 'what is our identity within arts and culture.'" 

Part of Broward finding its identity in the arts, Dunlap said, is learning from its connections to Latin American and Caribbean countries like Brazil. 

The Deputy Consul of Brazil in Miami, Ana Maria Pasiani, spoke on Wednesday’s panel. She's also the new head of the cultural affairs department within the consulate.

"In Brazil, it's pretty obvious you do have the big guys, and they do make a lot of money, but also with the small guys if we support them, we're gonna have an economic impact in the whole country as well," Pasiani said.

She explained that it can sometimes be difficult to connect the intangible value of arts to money. 

"I need to connect the business world with the art world,” she said. …”This is why we are at least trying to invest in this area."  

Read More: 'Zero Empty Spaces' Fills Empty Broward Storefronts With Artist Studios

Caribbean InTransit editor-in-chief Marielle Barrow Maignan brought a Caribbean perspective to the panel. She spoke about the economic impact of the open-access publication on culture. 

"Each issue represents about $30,000 U.S. dollars of investment of the work of scholars, artists and graphic designers," she said.

Barrow Maignan focused on how the publication tries to counter stereotypical narratives in stories and art, something she calls "de-histories." 

"Who writes, and who remembers, on whose behalf, is what we need to question all of the time," she said, "especially when we are developing policy."

Another panelist, Javier Hernandez-Acosta, directs the Business Administration Department and is a Creative Industries Researcher at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazon in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

"Creatives will always create," he said. "Beyond the direct economic impact, it's also the intersection between arts, cultural creativity – and tourism, education, wellness, technology…"

Those connections between the arts and other industries were most interesting for one panel attendee, Flip Aguilera. Aguilera is a holistic health coach in Davie. 

"I really don't know the economics behind all of it," Aguilera said. "But we need a lot of creativity in the world right now, because we have a lot of things we need solutions for, and it takes creativity to come out with those solutions, so I'm all for pushing for more creativity."

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, currently leads the WLRN Newsroom as Interim Managing Editor. Prior to transitioning to leadership from production, Caitie reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News for four years.