City should cash in on creative economy

Published 10:12am Friday, July 18, 2014

Brookhaven will be rocking and rolling this weekend as Brookstock comes back to town for the 14th year in a row. Not only is it back, the music event is bigger than ever this year, with programs spread over two days and multiple venues.

It’s great to see the venerable Baby Boomer festival embrace the younger generation with a Teen Brookstock, which will kick off the weekend tonight at the Haven Theater at 7.

A couple of local businesses also have music scheduled Friday night following the teenagers’ program, and, of course, the “piece de resistance” as usual will be the annual Brookstock event Saturday night at the Recreation Department. We ran a full schedule of the Brookstock events in Thursday’s paper, but if you missed it, you can find in at Here’s a link to the events list:

Events like this weekend’s music festival are an example of the talent to be found in Brookhaven. You don’t have to look far to see more evidence that the arts are alive and flourishing here. If you’re more interested in the visual arts, you might want to check out the Brookhaven Regional Arts Guild, which meets monthly in town. The next meeting is Thursday, July 24, at 5:30 p.m. at Lemanedi’s. All who love the arts are invited.

While the visual and performing arts add a rich flavor to our lives, it’s important to remember than they’re also good for our economy. Acknowledging that fact, Gov. Phil Bryant proclaimed 2014 as the “Year of the Creative Economy: Mississippi Homecoming” in ceremonies last December in Jackson.

“Our creative economy is one of the state’s true economic drivers,” Bryant said in a press release announcing the proclamation last winter. “Mississippi’s creative economy is a job producer,” Bryant continued, noting, “In fact, job growth in Mississippi’s creative economy has outpaced national creative economy growth in recent years.”

Events like Brookstock draw people to town. While here, they’ll spend money with local businesses. Not only that, but people making a decision on a new hometown look for communities with cultural opportunities as well as good schools, health facilities and recreational options.

But the bottom line is the arts mean jobs, pure and simple. To quote the governor, “Mississippi’s creative economy is a direct source of economic growth and wealth, accounting for more than 60,000 jobs across the state.”

With the city’s recent approval of a 2 percent tourism tax, our community will soon have funds to help fuel our creative economy.

What better focal point for this could we have than the Mississippi School of the Arts? Let’s pool our “town and gown” talents. MSA holds many events ranging from concerts to art shows. People who come to town for one event might decide to make hotel reservations for the whole weekend if there’s more going on to keep them here.

“With the school of the arts, Brookhaven has a tremendous ability to say Brookhaven means arts,” Christopher C. Ray, CEO of the Ramey Agency, a marketing firm in Jackson, said at a “Creative Economy” summit meeting in Brookhaven last December. We need to take that advice to heart.

The opportunities to develop and grow Brookhaven’s creative economy are great. What are your ideas?

Rachel Eide is editor/general manager of The Daily Leader. Contact her at