Arts organizations are planning to use the study to lobby state lawmakers for $11 million in funding over the next two years. Arts advocates point out that funding was cut by one-third during the 2003 legislative session to help the state balance its budget.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman released numbers from a study that shows the arts have a strong economic impact in the Twin Cities economy. The two men shared the stage at a press conference at the Children's Museum in downtown St. Paul. The study finds that non-profit arts organizations account for nearly 17,000 jobs in the Twin Cities.
Coleman said the economic impact of the arts is impressive; but there are other benefits as well. "What it creates is the heart and the soul of your city. It says these are the things that we value," Coleman said.
Rybak agreed with Coleman, saying that the study numbers are impressive but the arts do not need to be economically justified. "The arts, in a lot of communities, are something nice that people do maybe once a month. The arts are woven deeply into every element of the fabric of this region. That's who we are," Rybak said.
Nonetheless, says Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, the data will be a key element of the argument arts advocates are planning to take to the Minnesota Legislature this session.
The figures for Minneapolis and St. Paul were drawn from a statewide study compiled in 2004-2005 and funded by the McKnight Foundation. The survey did not include for-profit arts organizations nor did it cover individual artists, who are the subject of a separate economic impact study, planned for release in March.