Making a local economic impact

Published 10:11 am Saturday, May 19, 2018

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Whether the quote originated from Peter Drucker or William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), it holds true even in the arts.

So what is the measured impact of the arts in southeast Minnesota and across the state? A 2017 study by Creative Minnesota presents several metrics.

“If the nonprofit arts and culture sector were regarded as a single employer, it would be larger than Mayo Clinic, 22 percent larger than the state of Minnesota, and 77 percent larger than Target Corporation,” said Arleta Little, Program Officer and Director of Artist Fellowships at the McKnight Foundation. That’s big.

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The combined economic impact of nonprofit arts organizations, their audiences and artists and creative workers is over $2 billion annually in Minnesota. This includes $819 million spent by nonprofit arts organizations, $564 million spent by audiences, and the direct spending of artists in their communities, on things such as art supplies and studio rental, of $644 million. State and local government revenue exceeded $222 million, including income and sales taxes.

Just looking at the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations, Minnesota has double the arts economy of Wisconsin even though we have nearly the same population, 10 and a half times the arts economy of Kansas and twelve and a half times the arts economy of South Dakota.

The Twin Cities Metro area boasts the most robust arts economy, it is followed by the Arrowhead in second and southeast Minnesota in third. The southeast Minnesota region (Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Olmstead, Mower, Rice, Steele, Wabasha and Winona counties) recorded $76,691,000 in economic impact in 2016 and generated $8,877,000 in state and local government revenues. The top creative jobs in the region are photographer, singer and author with an average hourly wage of $19.94.

The arts also generate a positive community impact by volunteering. Southeast Minnesota artists volunteer more in their communities than other Americans, at 91 percent, compared to 35 percent of all Minnesotans and 25 percent of all Americans.

The Austin Area Commission for the Arts contributes to the arts and culture sector with programming. In the first five months of 2018, the organization hosted 22 movies and 13 live music events at the Paramount Theatre. The Austin ArtWorks Center was the site of five Family Art Studios, three gallery exhibits, five ArtRocks Jam Sessions, one Music at the Bank concert, 20 Kid’s Studio classes, 10 adult classes, six private classes and 21 open painting studio events over the same time period. Thanks to all our volunteers and donors who make it possible. The Creative Minnesota study was funded by Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, The McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Forum of Regional Arts Councils of Minnesota, Target, Bush Foundation, Mardag Foundation, and Jerome Foundation.

Coming soon at the Paramount Theatre

•May 20: Peggy Reich: Musical Pathways of Love piano, 2 p.m.

•May 23: $5 Movie: “McLintok,”3 and 7:30 p.m.

•May 30: $5 Movie: “A Streetcar Named Desire,” 3 and 7:30 p.m.

•June 6: $5 Movie, “The Lion King,” 3 and 7:30 p.m.

Coming soon at the ArtWorks Center

•May 25: ArtWorks Open Jam, 7 p.m.

•June 9: Family Art Studio, 1-3 p.m.

•June 11-15: Creative Clay and Art Summer Camp with Jesse Smith, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.