American Rescue Plan: ask Gov. Evers to invest in Wisconsin’s creative sector

Grow Wisconsin Creatively Resilience Fund
Ask Gov. Evers to invest in Wisconsin’s creative sector to power a resilient recovery statewide
Take Action Now!

Summary:
COVID has devastated Wisconsin’s creative sector.  
Nationally, financial losses to the nonprofit component of the sector, including theaters, museums, and galleries, are currently an estimated $58 million in our state and $15.2 billion nationally, according to Americans for the Arts.  Over 95% of arts businesses cancelled events since the onset of the pandemic, with a slow road to fully re-opening.    Thousands of Wisconsin independent “gig” workers and entrepreneurs lost their means of earning a living when the world shut down last year, and are re-entering a changed environment this year.

Despite these setbacks, this 21st century industry remains an economic engine to power a resilient Wisconsin recovery. To come back stronger, our state must invest in creativity, innovation, imagination, and entrepreneurship.

The State of Wisconsin is receiving $2.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.  We urge the State to invest $25 million in ARP funds over the next four years in the relief, recovery, and resilience of Wisconsin’s creative people, organizations, businesses and communities.

Take Action Now!
 The Evers Administration is making decisions right now about spending the $2.5 billion received from American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. Please contact Gov. Evers TODAY to ask for an investment of $25 million in the Grow Wisconsin Creatively Resilience Fund. Tell the Administration that investment in Wisconsin’s creative economy is a smart investment for the future.  

Arts Wisconsin has made it easy for you to make that connection through our Legislative Action Center.  We’ve created a template message that you can personalize; then, all you have to do is fill in your contact info, hit the “send” button, and the message will go directly to Gov. Evers.

This funding would provide creative people, organizations, businesses and communities with the jumpstart they need to build their local economies and enhance their tourism, civic engagement, and cultural development efforts.

Thanks for taking action NOW.  Please get in touch with Anne Katz, Arts Wisconsin Director (akatz@artswisconsin.org), with your questions, comments and ideas.

Details:
The $25 million would be designated as the Grow Wisconsin Creatively Resilience Fund – a new, dedicated fund beginning in FY22, for use and impact over the next four years. The dollars should be safeguarded against diversion to other purposes and require the least amount of annual assembly action / reappropriation as possible. Implementation would be through multiple state agencies, based on which are best positioned to administer particular grant programs, including the Department of Administration, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Department of Workforce Development, and Wisconsin Arts Board. Experienced community-based intermediaries such as Arts Wisconsin, UW Madison-Extension, Wisconsin Rural Partners, and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities will be strong partners to provide resources, counsel and technical assistance.

The Resilience Fund will support and activate the full statewide power of Wisconsin’s creative people, businesses and communities by investing in:

  • local and regional creative economic development efforts to recover jobs, businesses and income through downtown and community revitalization, civic engagement, job training and workforce development initiatives, and cultural tourism programs
  • creative economy businesses and entrepreneurs to boost creative sector resilience and capacity through relief, recovery, and start-up programs, increased access to arts and cultural opportunities, core operating and programming grants to re-engage audiences and community members, and venue-centered community development projects and facility adaptation to accommodate post-pandemic public health guidelines. 
  • creative workforce development to cultivate an equitable, career development pipeline and support system through an expanded apprenticeship system in creative businesses, the establishment of a “Creative Workforce”/ArtsCorps program to put artists to work on community-based projects and programs, and job training programs to help creative workers to apply their skills in other sectors, such as health care, environment, and advanced manufacturing.

This is a historic opportunity to use federal COVID assistance to invest in creativity, entrepreneurship, and 21st century development.

Other states are going big:  Illinois is campaigning for a $500 million funding package; New York just passed a one-year budget that gives their arts sector over $200 million in dedicated funds, plus access to $800 million in recovery grants; California legislators are championing a $1 billion package for the arts. This funding will help level the playing field nationally, enhancing Wisconsin’s attraction as a good place to live, work and play, in communities large and small. 

Why is investment in Wisconsin’s creative workers and businesses so important?

  • The creative sector is a jobs generator: It contributes $10.9 billion to Wisconsin’s economy annually and employs nearly 100,000 workers, more workers than in the state’s beer, biotech,and papermaking industries. [US BEA] 
  • Creative workers and businesses have been hit particularly hard by COVID:  Wisconsin needs a competitive creative workforce. Arts venues were the first to close and many are still grappling with re-opening restrictions, making this sector the likely last to reopen. Unemployment insurance claims in the creative industries have grown by more than twice the rate across all industries in Wisconsin. [US DOL] 
  • The proposed funding prioritizes equity: the 2020 unemployment rate among BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists in Wisconsin was higher than the rate among white artists. [AFTA] 
  • In-demand fields need creative workers: The healthcare, marketing, and IT fields need digital video editors, graphic designers, writers, and communications specialists, to name a few. Over 70% of companies rate creativity as a primary concern when hiring. [CB/AASA] 
  • When the arts thrive, everybody wins: In addition to being an economic powerhouse, the arts bolster neighborhood vitality, address long-standing inequities, and help heal and rebuild our spirit in this time of crisis. 

This proposal is strongly supported by a diverse, growing, statewide coalitionClick here to join the list of supporters

For more information, contact Anne Katz, Arts Wisconsin, akatz@artswisconsin.org | 608 255 8316.