The Wisconsin Arts Board has come out with a new study showing the impact the arts have on local economies. According to the report, “in 2005, Wisconsin’s non-profit arts industry generated over 15,000 full-time jobs and $61,840,000 in state and local government revenue. Cumulatively, the arts contributed $418,055,786 in total economic activity.” The Wisconsin Arts Board hopes to use the report’s findings to improve public funding for the arts in Wisconsin.
We have certainly entered an era when communities will have to show a vibrant cultural environment to survive and thrive. Many small towns in Wisconsin, and elsewhere, struggle with this. I will say that’s one big difference I’ve noticed between Ireland and the United States - arts, whether it be music, storytelling or visual arts, play a prime role in society here in Ireland. I’ve told many friends, and written here, about the prevalence of traditional music sessions even in the town of 8,000 we live in. It’s not unusual to have live music events here in town every night of the week. I’m a firm believer that this kind of thing helps to build communities, because arts events are shared events, rather than the individual event of staying home and watching television.
In a Wisconsin State Journal article announcing the release of the report, our good friend Anne Katz of Arts Wisconsin is quoted doing what she does best, plugging the arts. Nice job Anne!