The arts community in Michigan is still elated that the .2 mill passed in three large Detroit-area counties. Yesterday’s voter booth success definitely helps to ensure a more financially secure Detroit Institue of Arts, but you can be assured that its passage wasn’t because of some innate sense of arts patronage among Michiganders but a victory based on educating voters about the facts.

ArtsServe Michigan published the above infographic on Facebook and it shows why arts funding works. Every dollar invested into the state’s arts economy yields an incredible return.

This “it makes sense financially” tact is sure to win in the future if the arts community continues to drive home that arts grants are an investment. Rather than pump money into corporations that farm out jobs, often out of state or elsewhere, why not invest local and still get a great return? While many in the arts community hate to think of culture in a “bottom line” sort of way, there is no other alternative when voters are weighing limited public funds against other economic choices.

Even die-hard arts funding haters like Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who only last year axed his state’s arts commission, has been recognizing his folly. Last month, Stateline reported:

A year ago, Governor Sam Brownback employed his line-item veto authority to shut down the Kansas Arts Commission, making Kansas the first state to eliminate arts funding from its budget. The Republican governor argued that art isn’t a core function of government, and described it as a luxury the state could no longer afford.

This year Brownback quietly reversed course. He proposed the creation of a new “Creative Arts Industries Commission” that would focus on the potential of the arts and creative industries such as graphic design and architecture to help the state’s economy.

After years of hearing mostly public arts funding horror stories, it’s nice to see that there is hope.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

2 replies on “Michigan Stats Suggest Every $1 Invested in the Arts Yields $51 for Economy”

  1. The Cultural Data Project is leading the charge to better quantify economic impact of the arts. Again and again, we’re seeing how these numeric arguments can persuade middle of the road moderates who are going to be key for any political victory. For those interested more in the topic, I’d encourage you to visit their website:

  2. New Report from ArtServe Michigan- For the Fiscal Year 2010. “The report details economic and social data from 346 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, representing an estimated 17 percent of the more than 2,000 cultural groups operating statewide. The data reveals that these organizations contributed more than one-half billion dollars in expenditures alone to the Michigan economy in 2010.”

    (The numbers increased significantly from the previous stat)

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