Guest column: Making good on 'Michigan 3.0'

By Jennifer Goulet/ArtServe Michigan

On Feb. 9, important steps affirming the significance of arts and culture to Michigan’s economy, communities and the lives of its citizens were set in motion. For the first time in more than a decade, our state is poised to reinvest in its rich creative resources. Viewed as luxury in tight economic times, our cultural assets are gaining recognition for their contributing role in Michigan’s economic resurgence as a national leader.

In his FY 2013 budget recommendation, Gov. Rick Snyder advised a $3.6 million increase in state arts funding – the largest recommended increase since 2002. His proposal, inclusive of state and federal funds, nearly quadruples the state’s investment from $1.4 to $5 million for a total $6.15 million appropriation to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

During his State of the State, the governor unveiled his vision for Michigan 3.0: The Era of Innovation. He asked Michigan citizens to reframe their thinking toward a more inclusive philosophy about the future of our state. ArtServe believes this must include a leading role for the creative industries. 

The business of creativity adds tremendous value to our economy as entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations bring jobs and economic activity to our communities while shaping an environment that embraces innovation and creativity.

ArtServe’s recent Creative State Michigan report, revealed that in 2009 – one of Michigan’s most vulnerable economic years – just 10 percent of the state’s arts and cultural organizations added nearly half a billion dollars in spending statewide – $51 for every dollar invested by the state that year. Those same organizations paid more than $152 million in salaries for 15,560 jobs. Further, from 2006 to 2010, the number of arts-related jobs increased by 4 percent and the number of arts-related businesses by 43 percent.

In his State of the State, the governor also prioritized tourism as a “key to our future.” A recent Pure Michigan report revealed that in 2010 arts, cultural and historical attractions and events accounted for more than $2 billion in tourist spending -- 17 percent of total tourism dollars spent in Michigan. This exceeded spending for other popular Michigantourist activities including golf, water skiing, boating, sailing, hunting, fishing and sporting events -- combined.

More than just direct economic value is the importance of the arts in creating places where people want to live and work. Arts and cultural assets bring energy to our neighborhoods and downtowns, in turn supporting local businesses and jobs just as they bring artistic and cultural experiences and enrichment. These are the places that draw entrepreneurs and young professionals, and where smart companies seeking top talent and business growth place their investment.

Another vital part of building strong communities is a robust education for our children with opportunities to learn through the arts. Arts education increases motivation to attend school, boosts attention and leads to greater academic achievement. In fact, arts students outperform non-arts students on the SAT, according to College Board reports. Arts education equips kids today with the resources and skills needed to be the leaders for tomorrow.

A momentous step forward was taken with the governor’s budget signaling that the arts matter toMichigan. Yet important work lies ahead in our efforts to rebuild the state’s investment in its arts and cultural resources and the creative industries. State legislative leaders must now embrace and approve this allocation as well.

We urge their support for this increased investment in Michigan’s creative assets, as well as ensuring equitable access to a high-quality, consistent arts education preparing our pre-K through 12 students for the future.

Strong partnerships among the nonprofit, for profit, philanthropic and government sectors also must be established to strengthen and build the capacity of our creative industries to transform our communities. This is a task requiring all “hands on deck” – together shaping opportunities for greater impact and return. And it’s a shared investment that will attract innovation and promise to Michigan.

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