Charlotte ranks 9th least bohemian metro in North America | CLT Blog

Charlotte ranks 9th least bohemian metro in North America

Posted on 4 Jun 2010 by Justin Ruckman

What does that even mean?

Well, refer to the Bohemian Index (PDF link).

Richard Florida, author of The Creative Class works with the Martin Prosperity Institute in Toronto. In his words:

The index charts the concentration of working artists, musicians, writers, designers, and entertainers across metropolitan areas. We measure it as a location quotient, which basically compares regional employment to the national norm, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and StatsCan.”

What are your thoughts?

Thx to @jritch for the tip.


  1. matt cosper 4 Jun 2010 at 11:44 PM


  2. tozmervo 5 Jun 2010 at 12:16 AM

    I sure as heck wouldn’t consider most of LA’s “creative class” to be bohemian, and it seems criminal that the musical culture of New Orleans doesn’t push that city into the TOP ten.

    • Avatar of Justin Ruckman
      Justin Ruckman 5 Jun 2010 at 12:25 AM

      The author noted that in the article too. But apparently much of the New Orleans art scene doesn’t do art as their sole source of income, which is part of the definition they’re using.

  3. Forrrest 5 Jun 2010 at 7:36 AM

    Not really surprising. On the institutional elite level: Bechtler,Mint,Gannt, we do well.
    Fostering grassroots cooperative art not so much : ARTSPACE being laughed out of town. Dugg Dugg’s first home in NoDA being shut down. Refusal to support artist inclusive housing. We have micro pockets here and there but a strong citywide indie boho culture we don’t have.

  4. matt cosper 5 Jun 2010 at 9:33 AM

    For theatre artists it’s pretty bad too. Directors, Designers and Stage Managers can get paid at a handful of theatres, but there are only two in town that pay actors. Of those two only one pays a living wage. If you are in the union, then forget it…you ain’t gonna work in Charlotte.

  5. Forrrest 5 Jun 2010 at 4:43 PM

    The spots in NoDa and Optimist Park are great but unlike say an Austin or Portland bohemian or funkiness is not our city’s “thing”. So we only have small outposts and it’s hard to be ingrained with the rest of town. For the life of me after five years I still can’t figure out what Charlotte’s “thing” is? You know the intangible vibe you can just feel in other cities that just blanks on me here.

  6. Forrest 5 Jun 2010 at 9:38 PM

    For sure. I like that one.

  7. Brad 6 Jun 2010 at 10:47 AM

    Is this really all that surprising. And Forrest you couldnt be more correct. Charlotte dosent have a “thing.” Never have and never will for a multitude of reasons. It starts with the political and social economic scene. This city will never move past banking, therefor we will never generate a diverse economy necessary to develop a strong creative class. We lack the strong educational institutions that promote research, growth and technology, which in turn would also help generate that diverse economy that is necessary. And lastly this is a city filled with insecurity. The long term residents cant stand when Charlotte is criticized, while lacking the ability to recognize that criticism dosent mean picking on. It means that you are hoping to see something, or in this case somewhere, do better. You are offering suggestions and input on how to improve things, but most citizens here view articles and the like that offer criticism as “just a bunch of yankees that want to change things.” This city wants to move up on that list, then we did to invest in start ups, invest in our creative class by expanding beyond banking institutions, and to toughen our skin up a bit to accept a little bit of criticism from time to time. Do you think cities like Austin, Portland, New York, and Chicago became great without having to hurt a few peoples’ feelings from time to time?

  8. Forrest 7 Jun 2010 at 4:32 PM

    This survey ties in well with a recent article in Charlotte Mag. The story is mainly a laundry list of urban planning sins from the past,mistakes that resulted in the hot sprawly mess of today. The decisions that jumped out at me the most:

    1. Focusing so much on making SouthPark a retail powerhouse has effectively killed any chance of Uptown ever having substantial retail. Ever.

    2. The city’s negligence in not enforcing smart growth policy around UNCC. I did not know that there were laws on the books that could have prevented the strip malled disaster we see today but nobody bothered to follow the rules or enforce them. On top of not building
    the campus Uptown to begin with.

    3. Charlotte’s lack of a natural signature. We can’t magically plop a river in Uptown or pick the city up and place it along a lake. Not that I would object to that! No marquee large park that can serve as a living room for the city. Consequently drawing diversity and buzz. Yeah I know the tree canopy is our ace in the hole and it’s pretty but other cities have trees too! ( And according to recent reports we are doing a bangup job of shredding the canopy as well)

    The entire piece totally bummed me out. Positives could be J&W adding some more energy to Uptown. The new UNCC Uptown branch will look fantastic when it’s completed. Romare Bearden Park and the growing greenway system will only help.

    I think the above amenities encourage a more diverse and creative workforce. I would be happier here if we could streeeeetch North Davidson,Camden,Thomas and similar into blocks and blocks of storefronts and cafes. I love hangin out at all of the above but they are so tiny. It’s hard to call them full fledged districts when compared to many of our purported rivals.

    And then again, maybe I am just not being honest about my city. If Charlotte were creative minded our funky nodes would be larger neighborhoods and we would have a more bohemian feel. Some cities are inherently conservative and vice versa so why even bother trying to change something that is ingrained?

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  11. Jeff Wise 9 Jun 2010 at 4:44 PM

    Let’s back up a step. As someone who participated in Florida’s Creative Catalyst gig that he ran a few years in the city, there’s a lot of great statistics he throws out, but there’s also a lot of counter-stats to his arguments too. In short, his theories have not been completely borne out. Personally, I like a good portion of his stuff, but I feel he’s got some holes in his thinking.
    That aside. I agree with the sentiments that society, or a group of artists cannot magically transfrom Charlotte into a bohemian city. My pet theory is Charlotte has spent so much time building itself into a prosperous city that ideas like the arts were lower priorities or afterthoughts.
    The key will be the upcoming generations. As the baby boomers eventually cede power (willfully or not) the next generation of leaders will be key to helping to more fully develop the arts. Whether that’s an expansion of NoDa or developing other areas remains to be seen. The bigger challenge will be commingling the suburbs into the mix. My office has about 100 people these days and maybe 1015% of them ever go Uptown to see a band, attend a show or pop into a gallery. And, as architects, we’re defined (by Richard Florida, et al) as a creative industry. What does that say?
    On the plus side, the solutions are many. There’s a bunch of different ways the city can influence and attract more bohemian types into the area. Some of them will mean financial help which at present will cause great uproar from those conservative types, but as Daniel Pink stated sagaciously yesterday, the arts are fundamental to our future survival economically and culturally.