The subtitle of this report, prepared by the U.S. National Governors Association (NGA) Centre for Best Practices, is called “Using Arts and Culture to Stimulate State Economic Development.”
The report puts to bed the argument that arts are somehow frivolous and don’t contribute to economic and community wellbeing.
The governors say investing in arts and culture can make a jurisdiction more competitive in the global marketplace. They argue that arts and cultural industries prepare workers to “participate in the contemporary workforce, create communities with high appeal to residents, businesses and tourists, and contribute to the economic success of other sectors.”
So how does this happen?
The governors note that new media and cultural industries bring high-wage employees that have “creativity and higher order problem-solving and communications skills.” These in turn attract other business due to the “ready availability of a creative workforce and the quality of life available to employees.”
They can help weak economic areas – the urban core and rural districts – because of the fact that creative industries are typically decentralized and made up of individual artists that are tightly linked to their community.
The report tells political leaders what they can do to build economic capacity in the arts and culture area. It recommends that a knowledge base be built with an arts audit that includes specific cluster analyses. Then stakeholders should be consulted, often by creating an advisory council of sorts such as the Maine Creative Economy Council or Michigan’s Office of Cultural Economic Development. Then governments should use these bodies to build a shared vision with measurable targets.
The report provides a list of specific actions governments can take to promote growth, including the obvious (strengthen cultural infrastructure; use a targeted approach) and the perhaps not-so-obvious (consider P3s to increase capacity; support collaborative networks).
All in support of arts and culture competitiveness.