A strong, vibrant creative economy is key to Wisconsin’s recovery, re-emergence, and revitalization.
The intangible impact of the arts is profound. Humans have been expressing themselves creatively since the beginning of time. People and places grow and are transformed by involved in creative endeavors. The arts make us human and make community.
Now, more than ever, Wisconsin needs that creative spirit that brings energy and hope. And, we need our state’s creative economy, which is critical to our local, regional and statewide identity, provides jobs and businesses, and is essential to accelerate recovery efforts.
The impact of the creative sector overall is profound, with numbers and statistics to back up the stories of transformation. According to the most recent information from the US Department of Commerce and the National Endowment for the Arts (released in mid-March, just as Wisconsin was beginning to shut down), Wisconsin’s creative industry packs an economic impact of over $10 billion (yes, that’s billion, with a b) and has a workforce of over 96,000 people. That’s more workers than in Wisconsin’s beer, biotech and papermaking industries.
The work of creative people and organizations – musicians, DJ’s, dancers, visual artists, actors, filmmakers, and teaching artists, and the producing and presenting nonprofit organizations make performances, exhibits and educational programs possible – depends on people showing up and being able to see and experience their work. With the cancellations of events into an unknown future, this impacts their ability to earn a living and take care of themselves and their families. In addition, many of those creative people supplement their incomes with other work, often in the services industry, which are also suffering.
No matter what, people will continue to create – amateur or professional, musicians will continue to make music, artists will continue to make art, organizations will continue to plan for the time when we can all come out of our houses again. The creative spirit can’t be stopped. Creative people and organizations will use their creativity to get through, in some way.
This moment in time requires flexibility, innovation, imagination, and creativity to create and deliver impact. We are navigating a pandemic that has exposed and exacerbated the cracks in our systems, our communities, and frankly, ourselves. We must create, and imagine, a better world. Community needs are changing and will be forever changed. Businesses of all kinds, including nonprofits, are redesigning programs, services, and strategies to be nimble, flexible, and innovative, to test, and to deploy new ways to advance impact in an ever-changing environment.
It’s more important than ever right now to invest in creativity, creative businesses, and creative workers, to survive, to evolve, and to thrive.
Anne Katz, Director, Arts Wisconsin