Firms look to creativity, arts as basis for future

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 18, 2005

There is no doubt: the budget crisis facing the state ofMississippi is very real. And regardless of the creative andpractical solutions the Legislature finds to close the budget gap,in the end this crisis will be felt across the state – eitherthrough cuts in services or increases in taxes or a combination ofboth.

The dividing line of this issue can pretty much be cut downparty lines: Republicans want to cut, and Democrats want to tax,with the governor holding the trump card in favor of cuts.Creativity and ingenuity are going to be important assets if we areto find a workable solution.

One of the less than creative solutions that has been suggestedis closing the Mississippi School of the Arts here in Brookhavenand the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus.Pulling the plug on the two would save an estimated $7.6 million(the schools’ combined budget requests), but the cost of such ashortsighted move would be much, much more.

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I came across an interesting article from the Harvard BusinessReview. Looking into the future, the editors of the prestigiousmagazine compiled the top 20 breakthrough business ideas.Interestingly enough, two of the first 10 ideas involved the sourceof creativity and ingenuity – the arts!

According to HBR, the hottest credential in the world ofbusiness today is a master of arts degree. The nation’s topbusiness recruiters are beginning to bypass the traditional MBAgraduates and are searching those right-brain folks who think morecreatively. In fact, according to HBR, it is harder today to beaccepted into the UCLA School of Art than it is to be accepted intoHarvard Business School!

Why? To but it bluntly, according to the article written byDaniel H. Pink, “thanks to the miracle of fiber-optic cable,” jobsthat once went to highly paid entry-level MBA types are now beingshipped overseas to lower paid MBA types in India. While at thesame time, finding ways to differentiate goods and services in amore creative way is drawing the interest of business to thearts.

Taking it a step further are comments from General Motors NorthAmerican Chairman Robert Lutz in an interview on how he saw thefuture of General Motors.

“I see us as being in the art business. Art, entertainment, andmobile sculpture, which, coincidentally, also happens to providetransportation.”

Nationwide, school districts are cutting art programs as theytry to balance school budgets. And despite the erroneous commentsby one Mississippi legislator that a good reason to shut down bothMSA and MSMS is because few states has such schools (actually, morethan 156 such schools exist), the opposite is true.

If other states are cutting high school art programs, is it notthe best strategy for Mississippi to do just the opposite?Especially considering the findings of the Harvard BusinessReview.

Both the Mississippi School of the Arts and the MississippiSchool for Math and Science are cutting-edge schools –¬†magnetschools if you will – that are allowing this state’s best andbrightest high school students expand their horizons and reach forthe stars.

Gosh, if the chairman of one of the largest corporations in theworld understands the importance of molding the future of hiscompany around a work force that has creativity and ingenuity,should not Mississippi be listening and also looking to thefuture?

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602,or send e-mail to bjacobs@dailyleader.com.