The Arts as an Economic Engine Blog
The National Endowment for the Arts and the Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released data and analysis of the economic impact of the US arts and cultural sectors for the year 2021 on the country’s overall gross domestic product (GDP). The report notes that these sectors comprised 4.4% of the nation’s GDP with just over $1 trillion, and art industries employed nearly 4.9 million workers in 2021.
Nationally renowned artist Richard Wilson, who lives in Greenville, believes art is crucial in connecting a town’s past with its potential future. He says art creates an emotional connection with people and inspires them to do great things, and notes public support for the arts is essential, especially for any town seeking to revitalize itself and become attractive to visitors and businesses. However, he points out that the high cost of rent and lack of support make it difficult for young artists to thrive. Wilson resides in Greenville but plans to open a second studio in Raleigh, where he believes more opportunities exist. Wilson believes that by supporting the arts, a community can keep talented artists in the area, positively impacting its future financial health. He predicts that artists and the people who follow them will come if a town builds a supportive art culture. His point of view about art being important in creating an emotional connection to place and people is supported by several studies.
Starworks is in Star, North Carolina, housed in an old sock factory and former schoolhouse. The community is dedicated to creating all types of art, from glass and ceramics to metal, and hosts classes and demonstrations for schools and at-risk youth. Starworks also has a clay manufacturing facility where artists make materials for other artists using red clay unique to the state. The organization provides jobs and cultural opportunities for the area and hopes to inspire similar projects in other parts of the country.
Joel Grant, the glass director at Starworks, is passionate about making glass. He is just one of many artists who came to Starworks to create their art and contribute to the community. The factory building is large and equipped with high-quality equipment, and the people are friendly and eager to share their work. The community is deeply rooted in the town’s history, with generations working or learning in the building.
Starworks is creating jobs and cultural opportunities and helping preserve the local economy by using clay from the ground unique to the state. The community provides a model for other communities to follow, showing that old physical assets, like an abandoned factory, can be repurposed into creative concepts that breathe new life into towns. Starworks is creating a vibrant art mecca in an otherwise rural area by providing a place for artists to work, learn, and share their creations.
The Stokes County Arts Council works with 19 local schools to spark interest in the next generation of artists. The community may be small, but leveraging resources and partnerships has kept the arts scene thriving. Craig Richards, an artist in Danbury, has honed his skills thanks to the Arts Place and the community. Sonya Godwin started as a volunteer and worked her way up to become a manager at the Arts Place, citing her love for the art and the community as her motivation.
The Arts Place and the Stokes County Arts Council have boosted the economy of Danbury, North Carolina, by allowing artists to create, showcase, and sell their art under one roof. The Arts Council has expanded from a single gallery into a multi-use building over nearly 50 years. Annual events like the Reach the Peaks, Polar Plunge, and the Stoke STOMP bring visitors to the area, positively impacting the community. The Stokes STOMP, held every year on the banks of the Dan River, is a popular event that has been held for many years. The arts in Danbury have become a cultural experience that creates economic benefits by attracting visitors to the area.
The National Endowment for the Arts and the Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released data and analysis of the economic impact of the US arts and cultural sectors for the year 2021 on the country’s overall gross domestic product (GDP). The report notes that these sectors comprised 4.4% of the nation’s GDP with just over $1 trillion, and art industries employed nearly 4.9 million workers in 2021. Here is an interactive map that allows users to track the estimated economic growth and output across all 50 states. As noted above, the arts also affect community-building and connection to place.