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New York Mills Cultural Center Praised

In the summer 2006 edition of Cura Reporter the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center is credited again for helping to contribute to our area's economic growth. The article titled, "Building the Creative Economy for Minnesota's Artists and Comm...

In the summer 2006 edition of Cura Reporter the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center is credited again for helping to contribute to our area's economic growth. The article titled, "Building the Creative Economy for Minnesota's Artists and Communities", highlights data from a new study, "Artists' Centers: Evolution and Impact on Careers, Neighborhoods and Economies". The author, Ann Markusen, a professor and director for the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, had previously showcased our center in an article (with David King) titled "The Artistic Dividend: The Arts' Hidden Contributions to Regional Development."

The importance of the studies, providing the data for these articles, helps public and private donors justify why funding should be provided to arts organizations. For many people who question why the arts should be supported in our community the answer comes in not just a philosophical feel good way but now also an economic reason.

For every dollar the City of New York Mills contributes to the Cultural Center $8 is generated back. This figure doesn't include the multiplier effect which, comes from individuals coming to events or shows and stopping to fill their car with gas or have a bite to eat at a local restaurant. Studies have shown the multiplier effect can create an additional $4 dollars for every dollar contributed.

Other ways the center promotes economic growth is by making the community more attractive to potential residents and new businesses. Having cultural opportunities in our town means area citizens spend their money here instead of traveling to Fargo or Minneapolis to enjoy a concert or gallery show. In addition the arts activities offered to area youth and adults help make this a great place to raise a family and live. The center also encourages an influx of artists to the area, spurring additional economic growth. Ann Markusen states in her article: "Artists, who are five times as likely to be self-employed than the average worker, make important contributions to the economy by exporting their work elsewhere, working on contract for non-arts businesses, and stimulating innovation on the part of their suppliers, none of which is counted in conventional arts impact assessments."

One other important reason to support the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center is what it does for our kids, the school and our test scores. Families looking to move into an area will weigh heavily the academic achievements of the public school system. Recent studies show the more arts a student is exposed to the higher their test scores on ACT and other college entrance exams. Active arts programs in the schools help students with retention, creative problem solving and other aspects of learning, resulting in better state mandated test scores. Our local Center provides numerous programs in the school with visiting artists, Art Adventure programs, area workshops, in school musical or theatrical events, as well as, summer enrichment programs inside and outside the school.

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In summary, the studies conducted by professionals like Ann Markusen demonstrate the economic importance of arts in the community. Other studies support the non monetary effects with test scores and life enrichment. New York Mills has had the foresight and vision to keep the Cultural Center an important partner in their economic development plans, helping us to grow as other communities struggle. A special thanks to New York Mills, members, grant providers and patrons who help support OUR arts organization.

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