As we come out of the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re left with a broken and quickly changing economy. It’s fair to say that a few things are clear. First, what we’ve been doing is not working. Second, the people are ready for a change. Millennials are approaching their forties, carrying with them a student debt crisis, a housing bubble, and a disdain for mass marketing and big name brands.
While there is no panacea for the unrest and uncertainty that our national economy is experiencing now, studies and localized examples have shown us that art can, in fact, counteract many of the economic woes our society faces today. Whether it looks like art hubs driving citywide growth, public festivals injecting money into local economies, or arts funding boosting overall spending, there is growing evidence that the arts may, in fact, be our best chance for healthy and sustainable economic growth.
When we talk about art as an economic driver, it is important to note that we are not talking about blue chip investors growing individual wealth by purchasing individual works for their collections. While this form of spending in the arts is likely not going anywhere, especially as we now see NFT’s selling for millions of dollars, it does little to improve our communities and can even decrease the quality of life for average artists and consumers.
When we talk about art as a positive economic driver, we are talking about affordable or free, accessible, public art! It’s what is at the core of IPaintMyMind’s mission.
One success story that can give insight into the benefits of art as an economic stimulus is the neighborhood of Wynwood in Miami. Also known as Little San Juan, Wynwood is a former industrial district famous for the colorful murals adorning its warehouses, as well as for the bustling rows of Puerto Rican-owned businesses that line its streets. In the early 2000’s, Wynwood, like many industrial areas, was experiencing economic hardship and blight, with many former warehouses abandoned or simply bulldozed, leaving behind vacant lots. Then, local investors began to commission artists from the area’s already-vibrant graffiti community to create large-scale murals, and the economy took off.
Today, the arts district is centered around Wynwood Walls, a collection of murals by artists as well-known as Sheperd Fairey and Okuda San Miguel, which draws visitors from around the world. As the artistic presence in the area grew, so, too, did the local business sector. The area is now home to beloved restaurants, art galleries, and a renowned fashion district. And Wynwood is just one example of a local economy revitalized by an investment in public art.
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