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Jennifer H. Goulet

 
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Securing Our Future: Investment in the Arts Not a Handout

Posted: 02/ 6/2012 4:38 pm
 

In his State of the State address, Governor Snyder shared his vision for Michigan 3.0 -- the Era of Innovation -- as we continue on the path to Michigan's reinvention.

He spoke of a need for Michigan to reframe our thinking to be more positive, inclusive and confident that Michigan is headed toward a bright future for our next generations. As Michigan and its residents develop and support strategies to become more competitive, I hope that sense of open-minded priorities will extend to the arts and culture community as a key ingredient to the revitalization of our state, cities, economy and pride.

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (CREC) released news of positive growth in our state in mid January, noting some gains in employment, tax revenue and other economic indicators. Employment is down to 9.8 percent from our 2009 high exceeding 15 percent, and economists are predicting steady job growth.

While the state fought to overcome a $1.5 billion deficit, critical decisions were made by state leaders to determine which programs and services would receive support. The creative sector was optimistic to see the governor and legislature commit to making an investment in the arts by providing approximately $2.5 million in state funding for the 2012 Fiscal Year. However, when we look at the investment as a percentage of the state's discretionary budget, funding support for the arts represented just 3.7 cents per $10,000 of state spending in Fiscal Year 2011. Knowing the arts were more valuable than a few cents, we knew better arguments were needed to prove it.

Recently ArtServe Michigan released the Creative State Michigan report, which offers the first opportunity to review reliable, comprehensive data demonstrating the impact of the arts and culture sector on Michigan's economy, including Detroit. The report was compiled from theMichigan Cultural Data Project database, operated by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and information from Americans for the ArtsMichigan Economic Development Corporation and Pure Michigan.

What the data show is that the business of creativity adds tremendous value to our economy, as well as significant investments in the city of Detroit.

Consider that from 2006-2010, the number of arts-related jobs increased by 4 percent and the number of arts related businesses by 43 percent. In 2009, the year the CREC credits as one of our state's most vulnerable moments, 211 of Michigan's more than 2,000 arts and cultural organizations paid out $152 million in salaries to 15,560 workers. Of those salary dollars across the state, 30 percent* were paid in Detroit.

The economic capacity of arts and culture does not stop there. In 2009, just 10 percent of Michigan's total number of arts and culture organizations contributed nearly half a billion dollars in expenditures to the Michigan economy. In fact of every dollar invested by the state, the artscontributed $51 to the Michigan economy. In Detroit, those expenditures amount to more than $127 million*.

In addition to its economic virtues, the arts as a sector enjoy a unique magnetism: drawing people to the communities where these organizations exist, even despite the necessity of carefully allocating resources for survival. In 2009, more than 12.6 million people made visits to arts and cultural venues and events, 14 percent* of them to Detroit's offerings. These organizations made it easier to participate, as 52 percent of these offerings were free. Still the ripple-effect benefit to surrounding businesses is quite tangible.

If we draw further from the priorities of Governor Snyder's speech, he notes the importance of tourism as a "key to our future." The data agree. Michigan's arts and culture sector attracted more than $2 billion in tourist spending, 17 percent of all tourist dollars spent that year. That number exceeds tourist dollars spent for every other popular tourist activity combined, including watching our sporting events; enjoying our many lakes, streams or rivers; and hitting the links at our expanse of golf courses.

Not only do arts and culture attract tourism, they entice diverse businesses and talent to reside within our borders, another vital ingredient to the sustainability of our future. We've heard the many stories of visitors, entrepreneurs and businesses with preconceived notions about Detroit learning to appreciate the city for its rich artistic history and cultural amenities.

Who would have guessed even a few months ago that Detroit would be called out by the president of the United States in his State of the Union address as a model for how other cities can work to reclaim employment opportunity and prosperity.

Attracting outside talent isn't enough. It is our duty to enrich future generations with the resources to compete and build the skills necessary to overcome future challenges. The arts engage and shape the minds of our young people to become the talented, inventive workforce of tomorrow, and in 2009 hosted nearly two million of our children in their facilities. These same organizations also offered 797 programs within the schools to promote creative problem solving and skill building.

Inspiring works of art and innovative designs have the power to transform people's lives and creative vibrant communities, as well as the groundbreaking solutions to position Michigan and Detroit as leaders in reconstruction. As businesses, they directly contribute to the economy as they purchase materials, contract services and pay workers who in turn purchase goods and services.

As we review all of the assets leading to an optimistic future, the data prove that within the arts and culture industry are important roles and opportunities for collaboration with nonprofits, businesses and government to aid in Michigan's economic recovery and restructuring. Wealth is created in ideas, and it is essential Michigan recognize and capitalize on every opportunity.

*ArtServe Michigan compiled the Detroit information using the same October 7, 2009 data used to compile the Creative State Michigan report

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