Creative Policy and Development Agenda

Now is the time to invest in creativity and in Wisconsin’s creative resources for a brighter future.  Strengthening Wisconsin’s creative economy is a critical strategy for the state and all of its communities to compete in the global economy, educate our children, engage residents, and to develop, attract and retain entrepreneurs and a high skilled work force through healthy, vibrant communities where people want to live, work, learn, and play.

Creating and sustaining places where people want to live, work and start a family are essential components to move Wisconsin forward competitively in the 21st century. Arts and culture, arts education and the creative industries play an important role in developing vibrant communities, educating and training the 21st century workforce, and building a foundation for growth and lifelong learning, making them critical to the future of our state.

Wisconsin has all the assets it needs to lead creatively and globally.  Arts, culture and creativity are integral to the Wisconsin Idea and are deeply rooted in our state’s history. The arts are inherent in almost every aspect of the daily lives of every resident of Wisconsin and creativity is a resource that every business and every community need to succeed in the 21st century.

While many of Wisconsin’s historical industries are in flux, the state’s creative sector is on the rise and includes visual art, theater, music, dance and literature, as well as advertising, architecture, design, fashion, film, publishing, R & D, software, TV and radio and video games, to name just a few. The arts are a vital contributor to our state’s financial strength through job creation, tax revenue, business development and tourism dollars, and to our renowned quality of life in all parts of the state.

“Entrepreneurial traits like diversity, creativity, and resilience are critical
components of success in our constantly-evolving global economy.” ~ Gov. Tony Evers

Arts Wisconsin’s Creative Policy and Development Agenda offers a framework for policy actions to raise awareness, and build credibility, support and investment for Wisconsin’s creative economy through six focus areas:

  • Creative Economy– Positioning growth of creative entrepreneurship, downtown development, quality of life initiatives, and cultural tourism, as well as Wisconsin’s creative industries as strategic state economic development assets and priorities.
  • Creative Education– A quality arts education curriculum combined with other core subject areas, increases graduation rates and will best prepare our children for the future. As we continue to take steps at every level to revitalize Wisconsin’s economy, it is crucial that we are able to prepare our youth with a broad knowledge base by equipping them with the creative thinking, imaginative, and problem-solving skills that will help fuel innovation in an ever-competitive and evolving workforce.
  • Creative Placemaking– Shaping vibrant communities and addressing issues of place through the arts, culture and creativity and furthering efforts to attract talent, spur economic development, revitalize neighborhoods, bring people together, offer opportunities to all residents, increase civic engagement, strengthen community connectedness and reframe community narratives.
  • Talent Attraction – Cultivating a culture of creativity in Wisconsin’s communities that nurtures, attracts and retains talent, especially creative and design talent, entrepreneurs, start-ups and businesses, who spur the housing market, increase tax revenues, attract new business and entrepreneurial ventures and encourage investment.
  • Trade Missions and Export Opportunities– Engaging the creative industries in trade missions to cultivate economic investment in Wisconsin communities, and positioning Wisconsin’s creative and design industries with the skills, resources and networks to maximize growth in creative export opportunities.
  • Investment in Wisconsin’s Arts, Culture and Creative Assets– Rebuilding the state’s investment in Wisconsin’s arts, cultural and creative assets and identifying avenues for growth and inclusion.

Facts and figures about the arts, arts education and creative economy in Wisconsin:

  • The arts contribute more than $760 billion to the U.S. economy.  Data released in 2018 by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) offers an insightful picture of the impact the arts have on the nation’s economy. The Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACSPA) tracks the annual economic impact of arts and cultural production from 35 industries, both commercial and nonprofit.  The arts contribute $763.6 billion to the U.S. economy, more than agriculture, transportation, or warehousing.  The arts employ 4.9 million workers across the country with earnings of more than $370 billion. Furthermore, the arts exported $20 billion more than imported, providing a positive trade balance.  Wisconsin’s economic impact is $9.1 billion (that’s billion, with a b). Click here for information.
  • Arts and Economic Prosperity V: The Wisconsin Arts Board and Americans for the Arts conducted a comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in Wisconsinin 2016.  The study reveals that local nonprofit arts organizations generate $657 million in economic activity annually, resulting in nearly $75 million in local and state tax revenues, 26,695 in full-time equivalent jobs and $555 million in resident income.
  • Wisconsin’s Creative Industries: This Creative Industries: Business & Employment in the Arts report provides a research-based approach to understanding the scope and economic importance of the arts in Wisconsin. The creative industries are composed of arts businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and design companies.  The most recent figures available for Wisconsin (2017) show that nearly 9,200 arts-related businesses employ over 50,000 people throughout the state.


Updated 12-14-18
Arts Wisconsin