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Study reveals local economic impact of arts and culture

Minnesota is home to 104,148 artists and creative workers, and they make their homes in every county, according to the "Creative Minnesota 2017" report. The highest density of artists is in the Twin Cities area, but there are many other thriving arts communities across the state. This map only includes part-time, full-time or self-employed creative workers. Students, retirees or hobbyists artists are not shown.

According to a new study, the annual economic impact of non-profit arts and culture organizations in north-central Minnesota is nearly $11 million.

"Creative Minnesota 2017" is the second in a series of biennial reports. The project is "a long-term endeavor to collect and report data on the creative sector every two years for analysis, education and advocacy."

The report will be officially released by Creative Minnesota, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts and the Region 2 Arts Council on Saturday, April 29 during an arts expo in Bemidji.

"Nonprofit arts and culture organizations contribute to the vibrancy of Minnesota's economy and quality of life and make our state a magnet for jobs and businesses. Now we can quantify that," says Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, in a press release.

Based on the U.S. Census, more than 100,000 people work as artists or in artistic occupations across Minnesota.

A recent National Endowment for the Arts study found that Minnesota has the highest concentration of artists in the Midwest, higher than all surrounding states, including Illinois.

The Twin Cities is second only to New York City for percentage of the workforce employed in theatre companies.

"Artistic occupations" were defined as those who make their living wholly, or in part, by working in 41 creative jobs. The most common in Minnesota are photographers, musicians, singers, writers and graphic designers. Other examples include architects, landscape artists, curators, fine artists, multimedia artists, dancers, public relations, film, agents and audio technicians.

Local impact of the arts

Minnesota's regional arts councils work with the State Arts Board by providing services, training and grants. Each council serves between five and 18 counties.

The Region 2 Arts Council includes Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Lake of the Woods and Mahnomen counties.

Although tenth in population among the state's 11 regional arts councils, Region 2 ranked eighth in "economic impact per capita, outranking more highly populated areas," according to "Creative Minnesota 2017."

In north-central Minnesota, the average hourly wage for creative workers is $17.36. The study found that women and artists of color had lower wages than other artists.

Region 2 artists and creative workers directly spend $4,831,350 annually in their communities on such things as art supplies, contract services, travel, advertising and studio rental.

Greater Minnesota artists say their strongest needs are more access to markets and audience, more reliable access to work spaces and equipment and greater access to fellow artists for peer learning.

Nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences spent another $6 million in direct expenditures.

Among the study participants were Blank Canvas Gallery, Jackpine Writers Bloc, Nemeth Art Center, Northern Light Opera Company, Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council, Park Rapids Area Community Band, Paul Bunyan Playhouse, Headwaters Center for Lifelong Learning and the Menahga Area Historical Society, among others.

Arts and cultural audiences totalled 79,236 people in Region 2. Attendees in this region spend $20.87 per person above the cost of their ticket.

More Minnesotans attend live performances, art museums, art festivals and historical/cultural parks or monuments than the national average.

Region 2 arts organizations and artists also generate $1,319,000 in government revenue. This includes sales, income and property taxes as well as licenses, utility and filing fees, etc.

"Creative Minnesota 2017" was developed in partnership with The McKnight Foundation, Target, Bush Foundation, Mardag Foundation, Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Boards and the Forum of Regional Arts Councils of Minnesota.

The full report can be downloaded at creativemn.org.

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