"WHEN Richard Florida took the mainstage at last year’s Americans for the Arts conference inPortland, Oregon, the woman next to me-we had never met-leaned in with an immediate response. "Hubba-hubba," she murmured in my direction. The Carnegie-Mellon University professorof economic development had come a long way since the publication of The Rise of the Creative Class in June 2002. On the back flap of the book, the author’s photo portrayed a typicalacademic-a bit slouchy, in a dark polo shirt and blue jeans (albeit strategically positioned in front of an abstract painting). But here in the Hilton ballroom, the guru of the creative class wascostumed as an impeccably groomed and fashionable figure. His performance was equally sleek. All the essential dramaturgical ingredients were there: acompelling narrative (he makes his argument by converting his research into a story, which begins with his Italian immigrant father in Newark, New Jersey), dramatic timing, even props. The climaxof the show came when Florida drew from his breast pocket a pair of fashionable glasses. To make his point about the value added by design, he recalled how cheaply his father’s factory hadproduced the same basic product. Predictably, the response was dizzying. You could feel the love. For arts administrators andadvocates embattled by financial and social retrenchment, an economic development professor extolling the virtues of creativity becomes a rock star. (...)"