Local art scene a boon to the economy

By working and spending their money locally, indie artists in the Twin Cities area benefit all.

by Camille Galles

Despite ferociously low temperatures, people in the Twin Cities support art with a fiery passion.

It’s normal for a local rap group to sell out a week’s worth of shows here. No one bats an eye when buses offer special passes for people travelling to art shows. But this just doesn’t happen anywhere else.

Large, well-known arts organizations such as the Minnesota Orchestra and the Guthrie Theater are easy to visualize. But plenty of cities have orchestras and theaters. What sets Minneapolis apart from the rest of the United States — and what keeps its arts economy strong — is an innovative community of small but passionate artists.

Minneapolis city officials are currently planning the Creative City Roadmap, a 10-year strategic plan that will define how the city will support its creative sector. It is imperative that these plans continue to create a city where independent artists can survive.

Independent artists are the lifeblood of the Twin Cities’ arts culture, and they deserve to be part of the conversation.

I’m not the only one who notices an unusual amount of creative energy in the Twin Cities. Minneapolis has a creative vitality index score that is 4.5 times stronger than the national average, according to recent city research. This score quantifies the economic impact of creative jobs that are not easily measurable. It’s the sixth-strongest arts economy in the nation, and art pumps an average of more than $700 million into the Minneapolis economy every year.

Independent artists might not be employed by large arts organizations. They might not even make art full time. However, the income they earn by selling goods and services out of the region (during an art fair or a music tour, for example) generates income that forms the economic base of the Twin Cities region.

Similar to professional athletes, artists’ performances and shows draw patrons out of their homes to spend money. But unlike most professional athletes, independent artists live and spend the bulk of their own incomes locally. Independent artists collaborate with other local businesses, such as logo designers. When artists lift themselves through this contractual work, they lift everyone up.

People want to live in an “artsy” city where they can find a job.

An arts scene attracts innovative young professionals who will continue to contribute to the economy. Minneapolis has exactly that scene, but it shouldn’t be a local secret anymore. The city should actively fund and advertise the independent arts to attract new people.

The arts do more than just create beauty. They represent a vital part of the economy that makes the Twin Cities come alive. Independent artists create the culture that makes our city great, and we shouldn’t overlook them.