from the Chisago County Press
10/29/2015 3:24:00 PM
(left) At the end of the session, arts boosters came together for a photo at the Hallberg Center for the Arts.
Eric Peterson shared some stories and insights from four years of putting together a new arts organization in Wyoming. (right)
When Minnesota citizens voted to put a dedicated sales tax in place in 2008, to benefit arts and the environment; how many voters envisioned this as an economic development tool? Did voters check the ‘yes’ box for jobs and commerce to be created; or was propping up Minnesota’s quality of life the motivating factor in passing what’s known as the ”Legacy Amendment.”
Jobs and commerce did result, however. And, last week in the new Hallberg Center for the Arts in Wyoming-- area cultural activists learned just how many and how much.
Sheila Smith, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, presented facts and figures on arts-related spending to about 40 program attendees. The economic impact study and its entire data set can be downloaded from www.creativemn.org if you really want the details. The study and analysis did not include for-profit galleries, movie theatres or touring professional actors or musicians’ appearances.
This in depth study will be repeated in another six years, Smith added.
Overall, in Chisago County, 46 jobs are now tied to arts organizations. This includes visual arts and theatre, arts education groups and everything in between.
Franconia Sculpture Park Director John Hock announced the sculpture park hit 100,000 visitors this year. He said the next big project will be to construct an arts learning center, where large groups like school field trips, can be accomodated.
St Croix Valley Pottery Tour spokesperson, and artist Bob Briscoe, whose studio is near Fish Lake, said the May pottery tour is entering its 23rd year, and attracts clientele from all over the world. There are 54 potters participating, the majority of whom share space during the three-day tour at one of several local studios as visiting ceramic artists.
Eric Peterson, Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community organizer, said the new center, in a refurbished church on East Viking Boulevard, was only made possible by wide-ranging support and that he has had contact with many local arts boosters, too many to count.
Named in honor of the Hallberg Family Foundation, which contributed $100,000-plus to help acquire the facility, its members hold a monthly open house featuring an art genre with live music, and hope to provide classes soon. The center can also be rented for special events. See the website to join, contribute or get information.
As part of September’s Stagecoach Days in Wyoming, 284 paintings were produced by children who came to the WACAC arts booth, Peterson mentioned. Selected works are hanging at Nesting Grounds, in Wyoming right now.
According to Smith the creativemn study showed in Minnesota every child is getting three exposures to an arts discipline in one year-- be it a puppet show, an instructor, a musical performance, etc.
Smith explained that the economic benefit generated by arts activity is that it facilitates movement of money. Audience members travel to an event, consume restaurant fare, buy a souvenir, get fuel, and it adds up. “It is good to get people out of their house, into a venue where they spend money...that’s part of what the arts do.”
Plus, the non-profit organizations themselves buy supplies, distribute a payroll and contribute to their local economy.
The study showed 40 percent of consumers of the arts in Chisago County do not reside locally. Non-residents spend an average of $15 beyond the cost of their direct admission to an arts event. Smith said there’s potential to boost this beyond 40 percent and one the final message from the program last week was that Chisago County organizations should be cooperating on this.