Upcoming report finds racial disparities in city’s creative sectors

The finding is part of a citywide effort to set an agenda for arts spending.

Carter Jones

An initial analysis of arts and culture in Minneapolis has found racial disparities among the city’s creative sectors. 
The finding was revealed in the draft report of the Creative City Road Map, which will publish a 10-year vision of the city’s arts, culture and creative economy early next year.
For the past 18 months, a team of artists, city staff members, elected officials and community members have worked to examine the arts and creative culture in Minneapolis for the report. 
“We do know there are economic disparities in the arts just like there are disparities in our region for other sectors when it comes to race,” Gulgun Kayim, director of arts, culture and the creative economy for Minneapolis.
The findings showed that respondents of color are more likely to attend arts and cultural events in non-traditional settings than their Caucasian counterparts. 
Karleen Gardner, director of learning and innovation at the Minneapolis 
Institute of Art said the institute hopes to change those numbers by engaging minority communities to get to the museum. 
“We have a very active community engagement program where we’re going to different community centers and working in art-making programs, then bringing them to the museum and showing them it’s a very welcoming and engaging place,” she said. “We’re also focused on what people from other ethnic backgrounds are interested in seeing and doing at the museum through focus groups.” 
The purpose of the road map is to prioritize the creative sector by developing a unified vision for arts and culture in the city, according to the draft plan. 
Minneapolis ranks as the fifth-most creatively vital metro area in the country, according to the Creative Vitality Index, a measurement of the impact of a city’s creative sector. 
The index looks at the area’s share of creative jobs, arts spending, and creative for-profit and nonprofit organizations. 
Sheila Smith, executive director for Minnesota Citizens for the Arts said Minneapolis is a draw for creative people all over the Midwest. 
“We have double the arts economy of Wisconsin and 10 times that of Kansas and South Dakota,” she said. “If you’re a creative person and want a job in a creative industry, you’re probably moving to Minnesota.” 
Minneapolis’ art sector pumped $831 million into the local economy and employed 20,000 residents in 2013. 
The artistic field isn’t just an economy but a mix of sociological and economic activity, Kayim said. 
“If we don’t have people making the work, then there are no things to buy or shows to go to,” she said. “There’s economic and 
social connections that are made, and we want that to continue.” 
Still, in Minneapolis, the average hourly wage for arts, design, entertainment and media occupations is 7 percent lower than the national average. 
To put together the final report, surveys and events to spur community engagement will be used, Kayim said.
The initial goals of the program laid out in the draft are the formation of diverse and creative assets celebrated and promoted in Minneapolis. By using art, the city hopes to foster access to resources and connections, among other aspects, so local artists and creative practitioners can thrive.