OPINION: Investing in arts and culture is good for Michigan's economy
Steve Pepple | AnnArbor.com
On Feb. 9, Gov. Snyder included $6.15 million in his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal for the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs -- a $3.6 million increase in state funding - the largest recommended increase since 2002.
The governor’s recommendation, inclusive of state and federal funds, nearly quadruples the state’s investment from $1.4 to $5 million, reaffirming the importance of arts and culture and its positive impact on Michigan’s economy, communities and the lives of its citizens.
It is a momentous step forward, especially when it was just three years prior Governor Granholm advised the elimination of state arts funding altogether.
When Michigan hit an economic low in 2009, so did funding for the arts and culture. And yet in 2009, just 10 percent of the state’s arts and cultural organizations added nearly half a billion dollars in spending across the state. For every dollar invested by the state that year, the arts contributed $51 to Michigan’s economy, and those organizations paid more than $152 million in salaries for 15,560 jobs, according to data reported in www.CreativeStateMI.org.
With increased funding, arts and cultural organizations will expand programming and deepen community service, while increasing access in both urban and rural areas, stimulating spending in local economies and creating jobs - artists, managers, designers, teachers, office workers and more - in our local communities.
Creative centers - vibrant downtowns; walkable communities; and resource rich landscapes - are hubs of activity, driving local economies, offering cultural enrichment, stimulating competitive educational opportunities and sparking entrepreneurial innovation. These are places that draw entrepreneurs, young professionals and others seeking places with a rich array of arts and cultural amenities and creating the work-life balance they crave. Smart businesses want to locate in areas that offer employees and clients a creative climate in an appealing community with high amenity value.
When Gov. Snyder cited “Quality of Place” as supporting increased investment, we believe these factors contributed to his recommendation. However, that announcement is just a first step. State legislative leaders must now put their own stamp of approval on the proposed budget. We urge their support for this increased investment in Michigan’s arts and cultural assets. We look to state government to partner with the nonprofit, private and philanthropic sectors and persist in strengthening its investment share in our creative industries, restoring funding to levels appropriate for significant impact in Michigan’s reinvention.
In 1999, Michigan was the nation’s leader in legislative appropriations for arts and culture, investing $21.5 million.
A commitment to restore this funding proves to the nation that Michigan believes and invests in the power of the arts to transform our communities and the lives of our people. That investment will attract talent, business, innovation and promise to Michigan, not just to be competitive, but to lead.
Jennifer H. Goulet is president and CEO of ArtServe Michigan, a nonprofit statewide agency that works to strengthen and build awareness of arts and culture in Michigan. She previously served as the executive director of the Chelsea Center for the Arts and as Ypsilanti's Downtown Development Authority director and Community and Economic Development director.