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Arts' economic impact greater in Minnesota than its neighbors



Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in downtown St. Paul, one of the primary venues bringing $477 annual economic impact to the city, according to a new study. Photo by Tom Wallace.

Minnesota has long justifiably claimed bragging rights for its robust arts and culture offerings. Now the most comprehensive group of studies conducted to date on the subject has quantified the arts' economic impact further, attaching dollar amounts to what the arts brings to 17 cities throughout the state.

"Creative Minnesota: The Impact and Health of the Nonprofit Arts and Culture Sector" found that:

-- 1,269 nonprofit organizations support the equivalent of 33,000 full-time jobs

-- 19 million people attend arts and cultural events each year

-- 2.6 million K-12 school students are served by these organizations each year.

As the most populous city, Minneapolis led the pack at $540.6 million, but St. Paul claimed more impact per capita with $477 million. Minneapolis has more than 14 times the arts economy of other cities with comparable populations, and St. Paul has more than 10 times others of its size, the studies found.

According to data provided by Americans for the Arts, Minnesota has twice the arts economy of Wisconsin though its populations are close to the same, and 12 1/2 times that of South Dakota.

Asked why the gap is so pronounced, Sheila Smith, director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA), cited the state's long history of public and private giving to the arts.

"Minnesota has benefited from 100 years of great civic leadership that has focused on the idea that everyone should have access to arts and culture no matter what their circumstances," she said.

The report was a joint effort of MCA and Creative Minnesota, a collaboration of arts and culture funders including the McKnight, Bush and Jerome foundations, Target Corp. and the Minnesota State Arts Board. See for more details.

Jerome Foundation gives fellowships to five Minnesota artists

"Crow Spirit," 2013, by Star Wallowing Bull, image courtesy of Bockley Gallery.

The St. Paul-based Jerome Foundation has given five Minnesota artists $12,000 each in a fellowship program that provides career development opportunities for "emerging artists."  Three professional judges picked the winners from 220 applicants.

During the next year, the grant winners will meet with visiting critics, participate in a group exhibition opening in fall 2016 aMinneapolis College of Art and Design, have their work written about in an exhibition catalogue, and contribute to a panel discussion. 

The fellowship winners are:

Star Wallowing Bull, an Ojibwe-Arapaho from Moorhead, MN, who is widely-known for his lively Pop-style, colored-pencil drawings about Native American life in 21st-century America. A blend of figuration and abstraction, his designs often incorporate political vignettes, historical allusions, contemporary totems, and popular brands. 

Emmett Ramstad, a minimalist sculptor based in the Twin Cities, who collects the daily detritus of ordinary lives (tooth brushes, socks, underwear) and turns it into art "shaped by an interest in queer archival practices." 

Holly Streekstra, another Twin Cities-based sculptor. She frets about subjectivity, common assumptions, "psychic vulnerability," and the routine coping mechanisms that typically enable people to deal with an increasingly troubled world. A 2013 Fulbright Scholar, she plans to build a space for "the inquiring mind at the center of [her] work's message." 

Lindsay Rhyner, a Twin Cities-based creator of multi-media wall hangings. Her concoctions incorporate beads, collage, paint, recycled plastic and used fabric.  

Samual Weinberg, a Twin Cities-based painter who employs paint and collage in ambiguous narrative pictures that often conflate apparently unrelated times, places and incidents. 

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