Why is it Important for Wisconsin to Invest in the Creative Economy?

There have been major changes in the economy over the last ten years, challenging communities around the United States to break outside the mold and discontinue their outdated practices. Automation and technology (knowledge-intensive fields) are growing rapidly while manufacturing and industry are declining. So in response to these changes, many areas have turned to bolstering their creative economy and cultural sector as a viable resource for economic stability in the 21st Century. Culture has been proven to be a worthwhile investment for both intangible value and monetary value. In the past decade, more states than ever have begun to utilize creative economy strategies to fill the needs of their economies. In the coming years, as our society continues to follow the path of technology around the world, we will need to find creative ways to develop our economies.

The demand for innovation and creativity in the 21st Century is very strong, as creativity is becoming more important in today’s society. The creative economy has the potential to revitalize existing economies (manufacturing, retail, entertainment, etc.) to make them grow and be more productive. While some camps are hesitant to use funding to invest in the arts, the economic investment in culture gets returned. Despite research leaning toward the creative economy, arts funding still remains a widely debated topic in America’s polarized political climate, making it difficult for leaders to band together for the worthwhile cause. The goal of Arts Wisconsin and the Wisconsin League of Municipalities is to draw attention to the benefits of investing in culture within the state of Wisconsin. Both entities work relentlessly to advocate for the arts, arts education, and the creative economy in communities throughout the state in order to see positive change and progress.

The arts and creativity work for a vibrant, innovative, and successful world to live in.  Strengthening Wisconsin’s creative industry is a critical strategy for the state and all of its communities to compete in the global economy, educate our children, engage residents, and to develop, attract and retain entrepreneurs and a high skilled work force through healthy, vibrant communities where people want to live, work, learn, and play.  Funding the arts will help Wisconsin identify, strengthen and expand its creative programs, workforce, and businesses on the local level, leading to sustainable job growth, a growing talent pool, and community vibrancy and vitality. Arts and culture are extremely important to local, state, and national economies. In addition to building and amplifying the success of innovative industries, an accessibility to the arts makes a region a more attractive place to live for people and families working in any industry. Arts businesses and the creative people they employ stimulate innovation, strengthen America's competitiveness in the global marketplace, and play an important role in building and sustaining economic vibrancy.  

One of the biggest ways the creative economy stimulates creative thinking is by investing in arts education. Education is paramount. One way for communities to increase the impact of education is to implement art/creative classes in elementary and higher education systems. It should be required that all state schools provide a variety of classes and programs for students of various creative backgrounds. These options could include basic 2-dimensional art classes, dance, theater, competitive internship positions, and mentorship programs and corporation pairings. Children are our future and one of the best ways to promote change and to start at the beginning, since the roots of our culture. Education prepares children for jobs, prepares them to be citizens, generates social responsibility, and teaches them how to appreciate and navigate the world around them.

    If the arts were to be seen as essential, Wisconsin would see a rise in motivation, attitudes, problem solving and critical thinking skills, motor skills, visual learning, cultural awareness, and overall academic performance. Teaching children while they are young that there is an inherent value in the arts creates future generations of people who find value in enjoying and supporting the arts, as well as fostering lifelong learners. While many see art classes as just arts and crafts, children are actually learning to learn, observe, and synthesize while they create.

By providing quality arts education to all schools in Wisconsin, especially in economically disadvantaged areas, art could be available and accessible to all. Studies have shown that students in economically disadvantaged areas who have access to art education are less likely to drop out. “An 11-year national study that examined youth in low income neighborhoods found that those who participated in arts programs were much more likely to be high academic achievers, be elected to class office, participate in a math or science fair or win an award for writing an essay or poem.” Arts education won’t solve all of the problems Wisconsin is facing, but it will contribute to producing citizens who are achievers.

If leaders, legislators, and change makers would like to see Wisconsin thrive and grow (in the future and long term), they should seriously consider Wisconsin Creates and adopting the mentality that the arts matter. The arts and creativity are a catalyst for vibrancy, sustainability, and success for Wisconsin’s economic, educational, and civic growth, so if public policy followed suit to make this success possible Wisconsin will be a better place in the years to come. Wisconsin has cultural assets that it can promote. We would like to see action in order to preserve this state as one where people of all interests, backgrounds, and perspectives, in communities of all sizes, are involved in creative endeavors. In order to be entrepreneurial and progressive, states must give a portion of their funding to creative endeavors in order to generate jobs, create revenue, and improve quality of life.