Developers and local authorities are still using Richard Florida’s theories about the creative class and the creativity index in order
to understand why some places are thriving and some not. Florida uses the score on the famous four T’s – technology, talent, territorial assets and tolerance to predict the possibilities for growth. The most quoted is perhaps tolerance, measured amongst others by the gay-index.
I herby propose a superior, more operational and more easily measured index: the street art-index. Cities with the most and the best street art scene are the ones most likely to foster the creative class and thus to thrive economically.
Street art is a way both to measure creativity directly, but more important it tells us something about tolerance, talent and culture climate. Far from being a symbol of decay and stagnation, well-executed street art is a symbol of initiative, of political awareness, of engagement and of creativity. Street artists hunt the same grounds as the other gentrification pioneers – centrally located, cheap rent, and with aesthetic qualities. These neighbourhoods are crucial for the development of cities, and street artists are making them visible in the city grid. Street art is the signs leading towards innovation and development of new activities and businesses.
Therefore, the cities with the best street art scene will be the ones to grow and develop the most. Politicians should bear this in mind. When leaning on Richard Florida to understand growth, try also to measure street art – I can guaranty you will find a robust statistical co-variation with other variables measuring the potential for a thriving city.