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The Creative Economy

Posted on by Kevin Bielmeier

Photo courtesy of the Wadsworth Atheneum.

A treasure worth being discovered and nurtured within each of Connecticut’s communities are its artists. Each provide a unique perspective of their locale, with works that may be rightly displayed as homegrown. Too often the arts are considered something that requires a cost to the community: a line item in the budget, with little thought of the return. But the returns can be significant.

According to Americans for the Arts’ fifth economic impact study of the nation’s nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences, the most comprehensive of its kind, detailing arts in 50 states and the District of Columbia, the arts provide economic prosperity for America, by every measure.

According to the study, the nonprofit arts generated $166.3 billion of economic activity in 2015, $102.5 billion in event-related expenditures by their audiences, $63.8 billion in spending by arts and cultural organizations, $27.5 billion generated in revenue to local, state and federal governments, and 4.6 million jobs were supported, “The arts are an investment that delivers both community well-being and economic vitality," Robert L. Lynch, president & CEO, Americans for the Arts

Utilizing the arts as an economic driver - what I term “Arts for Eco” – can have an impact at the local level. A replicable example is New Milford’s Art Walk - www.newmilfordartwalk.com. The town’s arts commission select area artists, by jury, and strategically place them in downtown businesses over a weekend in the summer. Visitors follow an arts trail through the series of shops and restaurants, watch artists at work – painters, dancers, musicians and poets – and spend dollars on local merchandise, cuisine and art. It is a win-win.

Corporations large and small recognize the benefit of investing in the arts, “A vibrant arts community contributes to a strong business environment by enhancing the quality of life, providing creative outlets, and promoting cultural diversity," George W. Buckley, chairman, president and CEO, 3M.

Connecticut may be small, but often we are insular and operate in silos. We need to share our ideas and develop and support spaces where creativity can flow freely, and entrepreneurism can flourish. “This is why maker spaces, hacker spaces, coworking spaces, art studios, recording studios, networking groups, happy hours are all so important. The arts community needs infrastructure to support all its work...This represents a lot of jobs, a lot of economic activity. The arts are not just ‘the arts.’ The arts is business - big business. We should not just donate to the arts, we should invest in the arts," Tony Vengrove, founder & owner, Makery Coworking.

CERC’s Municipal Services team consultants directly with leaders of towns and cities in Connecticut to find economic opportunities such as the arts and streamline ways of working to pave a path to success.  Contact us - we'd love to talk with you.