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. Creativity is inherent in almost every aspect of the daily lives of every resident of Wisconsin, and is a resource that every business and every community needs 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 creative industries 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 and Placekeeping – 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 incubator, Attraction and Retention – 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, Cultural and Creative Assets– Rebuilding the state’s investment in Wisconsin’s arts, cultural and creative assets and identifying avenues for growth and inclusion.

Arts Wisconsin’s Legislative Actions 2020:

  • Get Out The Vote campaign for 2020 Presidential, Congressional, legislative, and other elections
  • Host and participate in ArtsVote 2020 at DNC convention, July 2020, Milwaukee
  • Advocacy campaigns for:
    • Restoration of Wisconsin Arts Board budget to ~$4M (pre-2011 levels), and ultimately to at least $1 per capita, and the restoration of the Percent for Art program, to integrate works of art to be incorporated into new or renovated state buildings
    • Establishment of creative economy investment program to boost Wisconsin’s creative economy, as a partnership among the State of Wisconsin’s Wisconsin Arts Board, Department of Tourism, Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Department of Public Instruction (DPI), Department of Administration (DOA), and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA).
    • Establishment of cultural district program as a collaborative partnership with State’s Main Street and Connect Communities program, Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) program and Opportunity Zones
    • Establish creative sector apprenticeship and mentorship opportunities with the Dept. of Public Instruction and other state agencies.

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

  • The arts contribute more than $804 billion to the U.S. economy, and $9.7 billion to Wisconsin’s economy.  Data released in March 2019 by the U.S. Department of Commerce’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 ACPSA is the first federal effort to provide in-depth analysis of the arts and cultural sector’s contributions to the U.S. economy.This research also shows that the creative sector includes over 94,000 jobs for Wisconsin, more jobs than in the  state’s beer industry (63,000), biotech industry (35,000), and papermaking industry (31,000). Click here for the details.
  • 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 Wisconsin in 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 1-8-2020
Arts Wisconsin