Create a spark for arts in your community

ashleyMarch is Arts Advocacy Month, and Creative Many Michigan is encouraging people to help “create the spark” for arts.  The organization is celebrating “the impact of arts and creativity in Michigan,” and highlighting the “critical importance of the arts, not only on individual lives, but on the quality of life, growth, and economic prosperity of our communities and the state as a whole.”

Over the last decade, the Michigan Municipal League has been working with our members to learn about, and adopt community placemaking strategies that improve the economic and social well-being of our state.  Recognizing that old tools and approaches for economic success are not as applicable in the 21st century, the League has been focusing on how places – specifically high quality, authentic places – drive prosperity.  In our research on placemaking, we identified eight assets of successful 21st Century communities, including strong arts/cultural amenities.

The arts help define a community’s sense of place, and enrich the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.  A healthy creative sector also attracts and retains residents and businesses, and produces significant economic benefits including jobs, a stronger tax base, downtown revitalization, and tourism (arts and culture tourism, in fact, generates more than the combined tourism revenue of golf, boating, hunting, hiking, biking, fishing & sporting events).

In 2014, the creative industries in Michigan put nearly 89,000 people to work in over ten thousand businesses – generating nearly $5 billion in wages in leading core industries such as advertising, architecture, design, film/media and broadcasting, and the publishing and printing industry (http://www.creativemany.org/research/2016-creative-industries-report/).  And research from Michigan State University found that those who receive formal or informal education in the arts – particularly those with lifelong participation – are more like to start a business. (http://ippsr.msu.edu/publications/ARArtSmarts.pdf). This is strong evidence that art and culture are important elements of thriving communities.

So at a time when funding for federal cultural agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts is under fire, and state and local budgets remain tight, we need to remember that public investment in the arts is one that pays important dividends to all of us, everyday.

If you’re interested in getting involved in Arts Advocacy Month, check out Creative Many Michigan’s website for ideas.