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Sunday, 02 March 2014 22:39

Michigan’s creative industries contribute $3.6B in wages

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ArtServe Michigan’s new report on creative industries in Michigan showed that arts organizations contributed $284 million in wages in Kent County in 2011. The role of the arts and creativity is becoming more important to the business community, said Kendall College of Art and Design President David Rosen. A team of Kendall students, above, participates in activities at a recent Startup Weekend Grand Rapids. ArtServe Michigan’s new report on creative industries in Michigan showed that arts organizations contributed $284 million in wages in Kent County in 2011. The role of the arts and creativity is becoming more important to the business community, said Kendall College of Art and Design President David Rosen. A team of Kendall students, above, participates in activities at a recent Startup Weekend Grand Rapids. COURTESY PHOTO: Matt Gubancsik

The cars people drive, the buildings they work in and the furniture and appliances they have in their homes are all manifestations of the creativity of Michigan residents.

As more people realize the business imperative of creativity, a new report shows the creative industries in Kent County — what most people would think of as the arts — paid out $284 million in wages.

That’s according the Creative State Michigan 2014: Creative Industries Report compiled by ArtServe Michigan, the leading statewide arts and cultural advocacy organization, which analyzed 2011 data.

It was only about 15 years ago that the definition of art and its value to society began to be viewed as an asset, said David Rosen, president of Kendall College Art and Design in Grand Rapids.

“When I was looking to see what business leaders wanted to see in their employees, creativity was not one of the top attributes — and now it is,” Rosen said. “They’re looking for problem-solving and creativity in their employees. It’s now part of the force that drives our economy.”

According to the report, the creative industries paid nearly $3.6 billion in wages to 74,000 employees in more than 9,700 businesses in Michigan. Kent County ranked third in the state for wages from creative industries behind Wayne County with $808 million and Oakland County with $1.3 billion.

The report says the state’s creative companies account for nearly 3 percent of Michigan’s employment totals, more than 3 percent of total wages and 4.6 percent of total state businesses, particularly in leading core industries such as advertising, the publishing and printing industry, design, film/media and broadcasting, and architecture.

Michigan in particular has been driven to a great extent by creativity, whether that takes the form of automobile designs, ergonomically designed furniture or household appliances, said Kendall College’s Rosen. Allowing the arts to wither would dry up sources of inspiration, he said.

“Imagine if the designers weren’t available” for Wolverine World Wide Inc., the Rockford-based shoe and apparel company, Rosen said. “If they got rid of the creative side of the business, they would have no product.”

D. Neil Bremer, executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, takes an even more global view.

“If once people get lifted up by the arts and then society doesn’t have dance or music or theater, it’s going to be a pretty gray place to live,” Bremer said.

People want to know the relevancy of arts to their lives and why they should care about the presence of imagination and creativity, he said.

“The arts tend to be ‘look what I made’ or ‘look at what I can do.’ That sets up the perception of how engaged arts are in the community,” Bremer said.

The role of problem-solving to design and creativity can serve as a catalyst to further the success of arts at a community level, he said. Studies have also shown that those kids who have the arts in their background do better in the classroom, Bremer added.

In 2011, more than 3 million Michigan students benefitted from educational programs and events offered by arts and cultural venues statewide, according to the ArtServe report. These same organizations facilitated 1,936 arts-based programs in schools providing educational experiences.

Those experiences took place at a time when businesses continue to increase the value of creativity and innovation in the workplace, yet many schools across Michigan have cut funding for arts programs.

The recognition that imagination and creativity are assets to be nurtured was a long time in the making, sources said. The arts used to be considered the province of the nobility, Rosen said, but this has changed as the boundaries of art became softer and people came to appreciate the design of everyday products that improved their lives.

“I think the arts have a long history that includes everything from writing to dance to all sorts of display,” Rosen said. “Art is anywhere people are inventing or creating. When it’s done with some sense of grace, form and style, it becomes art. I would not rule out any form of creativity.”

The broader definition of what constitutes art and its relevance is positioning the creative sector for growth and an increased recognition of its importance in maximizing Michigan’s competitive advantage, Jennifer Goulet, president and CEO of ArtServe, stated in the report.

“Every day, Michigan’s arts and cultural organizations and creative industries are making major contributions to our state’s economy — creating jobs, spending in local communities, generating tourism revenues and shaping vibrant cities and towns that attract talent and business investment,” she stated.

The report affirms the creative economy as a significant financial contributor and strategic opportunity for Michigan’s continued economic resurgence. Of the nearly $565 million in annual expenditures by the nonprofit creative community in 2011 — which exceeds 2010 contributions — nearly $196 million supported salaries for 26,064 jobs. These organizations contributed more than $14 million in the employer portion of the payroll tax and nearly $1 million in state sales tax revenues. 

In addition, Michigan’s arts and cultural destinations continue to demonstrate their value to the state’s tourism industry, generating more than $2 billion in state tourism revenues in 2011.

That represents 16 percent of the state’s total tourism revenues in that year — more than golf, boating and sailing, hunting and fishing, and hiking and biking combined, according to the report. 

Michigan’s cultural attractions are also reaching growing audiences, reporting more than 22.1 million visits in 2011, 68 percent of which were free of charge. 

However, Bremer said there is a trend that will need to be addressed if this growth is to continue. He said reports from groups such as the National Education for the Arts showed a gradual decline in arts participation and attendance.

“Those who say they get the arts digitally is at 71 percent and growing,” Bremer said. “This is a message we need to watch. It’s a different world for young people. The passion we have for the arts world sometimes isn’t being communicated to other parts of society. It takes a little bit of a different language to convince someone who’s not understanding.”

Read 3966 times Last modified on Sunday, 02 March 2014 19:44

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