Art Is the Best Economic Stimulus Plan Ever
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.
LA’s Downtown Arts District
The Los Angeles Downtown Arts District was once a hub for the citrus industry, which, like Wynwood, had become largely abandoned by the late twentieth century. Unlike the top-down approach that Miami government and financiers took in Wynwood, however, the beginnings of this art district were driven by individual artists, who expropriated abandoned warehouses and manufacturing buildings to create a bustling community of art studios. Today, the area is on the National Register of Historic Places and hosts an internationally known arts walk featuring open studios, public art, and pop up galleries. As the district’s artistic renown has grown, it has become home to an architecture institute, a bustling film industry, and an increased population, with the demand for housing in this hip district still growing to this day.
Here in Chicago, the Pilsen neighborhood reminds us of the power of municipal art, with its famous array of murals along 18th St. acting as the economic driver for a vibrant row of businesses, including popular Mexican restaurants and the must-visit National Museum of Mexican Art. The neighborhood is also home to Pilsen Open Studios, an annual event that draws thousands of visitors to the old Mexican neighborhood in yet another display of how murals and public art can draw foot traffic and, thereby, capital into neighborhoods single-handedly.
Art Can Boost Our Economy!
All that one must do to see the economic power of the arts, truly, is set foot in one of the many emerging art hubs across the country, but there is also hard data showing the effectiveness of public art as an economic stimulator. In a 2005 study, the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council of Minnesota found in a survey of local arts nonprofits that art events had drawn nearly 900,000 unique consumers into the city of Duluth, with those consumers spending $24 million that year, not including the price of admission to events or sales tax revenue. This same study also found that, as compared with motorists, pedestrians and cyclists spend nearly twice as much in local economies, further reinforcing the importance of drawing consumers into the streets by means of art, events, and architecture.
It is increasingly important to view the arts as an economic stimulus today, as millennials become the largest spending force in the United States. While there is an ongoing trope of millennial consumers ‘killing’ various industries, from paper napkins to diamonds, studies have shown that this group has, in fact, increased spending on art compared with preceding generations. In a 2018 survey by Park West Gallery, 4 out of 5 millennials said that art was important to them, while only 2 out of 5 baby boomers said the same. That same year, a study by Reuters had the art market increasing by 7%, with over half of art buyers surveyed falling within the millennial age bracket.
Interested in the economically generative power of murals? Stir up interest, attract new visitors to your business, and support local arts programs with a custom workplace mural.
Schedule a call with the IPMM mural team today!
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