Art Centers and Economic Development

There’s quite a buzz around town about the release of a new report. The report is “Artists’ Centers: Evolution and Impact on Careers, Neighborhoods and Economies” by Ann Markusen and Amanda Johnson.

Ann Markusen spoke at the August 2004 NDDC Monthly Forum about her previous report, “The Artistic Dividend: The Arts’ Hidden Contributions to Regional Development”. The Forum was co-sponsored by the Northfield Arts Guild as part of one of our programming partnerships, ArtSwirl. At the time, the NDDC was working with the Reuse Committee, Artspace and the NAG to create a new community artist center in the old middle school.

Markusen’s previous report highlighted the economic development potential of the arts. Our belief in this potential was one of the reasons why the NDDC was working so hard on the old middle school and why we are now working so hard on the Building for Creative Professionals.

Among the recommendations in Markusen’s recent report are:

“Public and nonprofit policymakers responsible for economic development, urban planning, and cultural policy should acknowledge and support artists’ service centers as good investments and as candidates for brick and mortar subsidies, operating funds, and technical assistance.

State and local governments should use the many tools at their disposal to help create appropriate spaces for artists and embed such centers in their neighborhoods.

State and regional art agencies, especially those operating in suburban and smaller town settings, should foster collective spaces for artists.”

The NDDC is working with public and private policymakers as well as state and local governments to secure their support for the community artist center…and “embed” it in the downtown neighborhood. Their support is essential if the space is to work creatively and financially for Northfield’s artists.

We believe that such a center will enrich the community both economically and culturally. We urge all artists and art organizations, as well as all citizens and citizen organizations, to work with us to achieve this vision of a community artist center.