SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Impact Investing and the Creative Economy

  • Posted Oct 05, 2020

This year, the largest Economic Development Conference in the United States, hosted annually by IEDC (the International Economic Development Council), was supposed to be held in Dallas, the home of SMU DataArts.  The leadership of SMU DataArtsSam Holland, Dean of Meadows School of the Arts, and Zannie Voss, Professor and Director of SMU DataArtsand I were excited to participate, and immediately reached out to join the Host Committee. The conference is now being held virtually, October 13-16, and we will be participating in two sessions.

Our fervent hope throughout this process was, and continues to be, that the arts will be an integral member of the U.S. economic development community and that we can place culture at the center of the “conversation” regarding community revitalization. Arts organizations, small and large, have always been embedded in their neighborhoods, providing both artistic programs and educational services.  Now more than ever, in this moment of intense focus on social justice issues and hyper-local connection, culture can play a crucial role in creating and enhancing successful inclusive communities.

Right now there is also a unique opportunity in the economic development sphere for arts organizations to look beyond philanthropy and explore the new world of impact investing.

On October 14, I will be hosting the IEDC session, “Creative Places and Businesses: Catalyzing Community Growth Through Impact Investing,” which will address this topic directly.  Impact investing, on behalf of environmental and social causes, has become more popular with financial experts as it has produced results equal to and sometimes better than traditional investment vehicles.

Our panel, featuring Laura Callanan, Founding Partner of Upstart Co-Lab, and Maurice Jones, President and CEO of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (“LISC”), will demonstrate and offer practical examples of how this source of significant resources can benefit neighborhoods and regions looking to shape a dynamic and prosperous economic future.

On October 15, Sam Holland will moderate the sessionInextricable Ties: The Crossroads of Arts, Culture, Economic Recovery and Development,” with Zannie Voss and Nancy Nasher, President and Co-owner of NorthPark Center in Dallas. They will discuss the multifaceted intersections of commerce and the arts.


We hope you can join us! Here are briefs; please visit for full conference details.

Corporate Relocation and the Lure of the Arts

12:00pm - 1:00pm, Tuesday, October 13

Fostering Economic Diversity and Transformation

To attract top talent, corporations increasingly located where the workforce wants to live. That is no longer only suburbs or “24-hour cities.” Many companies have recently relocated their headquarters to so-called 18-hour cities like Dallas, Nashville and Denver to better compete for top millennial, tech-savvy talent.

In this session we will explore the factors fueling the shift toward secondary cities away from the coasts. The quality of arts and cultural in these metropolitan areas is attracting corporate talent away from New York, Boston and Los Angeles as employees discover they can experience the same (or better) cultural density in smaller cities where the cost of living is lower and their dollars go farther. Infrastructure investments make access to arts and culture easier and diminish routine obstacles such as traffic and high cost often experienced in larger metros. Learn more.


Creative Places and Businesses: Catalyzing Community Growth Through Impact Investing

3:00pm - 4:00pm, Wednesday, October 14

Fostering Economic Diversity and Transformation

Investment opportunities in the Creative Economy have the ability to stabilize communities and benefit regions looking to attract and develop quality jobs. Impact investors are seeking ways to deploy capital for creativity that can bring new resources to low-income communities and entrepreneurs who are often overlooked and underestimated. Learn about how impact investment can be used to shape a Creative Economy that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable with tangible examples. Learn more.


Inextricable Ties: The Crossroads of Arts, Culture, Economic Recovery and Development

2:00pm – 3:00pm, Thursday, October 15

Join us for a lively discussion of the multifaceted intersections of commerce and the arts – from the arts’ role as a driver of tourism and corporate location to its ability to transform businesses and downtowns into destinations; from the arts’ economic contribution as 4.5% of U.S. GDP to its capacity to strengthen communities that are hungry to come together again and affirm meaning after prolonged isolation. Learn more.

Monthly Educational Webinars

Check our calendar for other educational opportunities that we have coming up. 

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