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Posted on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 7:52 a.m.

Investing in arts and culture is good for Michigan's economy

By Guest Column


The Ann Arbor Art Center on West Liberty Street is one of a number of local organizations that benefit from state funds for arts and culture.

Steve Pepple |

For the first time in more than a decade, Michigan is poised to capitalize on its rich cultural resources, once cast aside as non-essential, and now recognized as a vital ingredient, key to hastening Michigan’s economic comeback and leadership edge.

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

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.



Thu, May 31, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

I am for funding Art with private money, not tax payer money! Too often, these projects get Hijacked by a political group. Just look at National Public Radio, the only viable leftist radio network (it takes Taxpayer dollars) where the right has too many to name! (and does not get taxpayer dollars)


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

This is an election year joke. Taxpayers should not have to support public art or sports teams when essential services are being cutback.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:18 a.m.

I can appreciate Jennifer Goulet's enthusiasm for the arts and for the proposed increase of state funding for the arts. However, I would have found this opinion piece more interesting and instructive if Ms. Goulet listed how much of the $6.15 million, which Mr. Snyder recommends for the art fund, will actually be provided to Ann Arbor and exactly which projects and activities would receive funding. Perhaps $770,000 of the allotment can be used to reimburse Ann Arbor taxpayers for the Dreiseitl monstrosity sitting in front of the municipal building. Talk about hiding in plain sight! Ms. Goulet could have explained exactly what arts and amenities attract "talent, business, innovation and promise to Michigan" and how she knows this to be fact.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

"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." As long as you aren't GAY. Rick Synder, in that situation, was a gutless coward and refused to veto the anti-gay bill his fellow Repubs pushed through in Lansing. Talk about sending a clear signal.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

Amen .... thank goodness the Federal District Court is hearing the anti-gay ban on public domestic partner benefits that the republican bigots in Lansing passed. Like much of their discriminatory and potentially illegal legislation, it is yet another example of ongoing litigation that has resulted from their radical right-wing agenda. Eventually they will see that it is not acceptable to discriminate in Michigan -- either by State or Federal Courts, or by repeal of one sort or another. One step is to remember that the entire Michigan House is up for election in November 2012 !


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

Sorry, I'd rather spend tax dollars on police and fire services and infrastructure. Those will do more to improve the quality of life and commerce.