Wilmington – The Delaware Arts Alliance And state leaders hope to start a creative economy here in the First State focused on artists and the workforce that supports it.
Earlier this summer, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall Long and Delaware Arts Alliance (DAA) Executive Director Neil Kirsling announced the nonprofit is undertaking a strategic plan aimed at outlining a shared vision for the future of Delaware’s arts scene. . The „Creative Economy and Cultural Tourism Recovery and Development Plan” will include an online map of arts and cultural sites in the state, a policy agenda and an economic impact study. It is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2024.
The creative economy is an ecosystem of for-profit and for-profit creative industries, cultural spaces and arts workers, educators and more that produce and distribute goods. In 2021, the National Assembly of State Art Agencies Nationwide, the arts supported or created 4.9 million jobs that provided $504 billion in wages.
The same report shows that Delaware’s arts and cultural production contributes 7,746 jobs and $972 million to the state’s economy.
„The creative economy is not a new concept, but it acknowledges the economic impact that people and companies in Delaware use to drive goods, services and job creation,” Kirschling told the Delaware Business Times. „Think of the ripple effects of a theatrical production. People create the stage, but there are also legal and human resources behind a production.
Hal Lang, a patron of the arts, is leading the effort with Kirschling to better showcase the impact the arts have on quality of life, attracting not only visitors, but residents as well. Amid the pandemic, the lieutenant governor held monthly calls, and he began noticing common threads facing creative businesses, such as finding health insurance coverage and accessing funds to help the business survive and thrive.
„These issues are important to ensure that not only do we have a community that thrives for businesses, but also that small businesses have those resources … My goal is to make Delaware an attractive place for families to live, work and raise their children,” Hal Long said. , especially a post-Covid creative economy is essential.”
With an online, interactive map of cultural and arts venues across the state, DAA and state officials are the first to define Delaware’s creative economy and the businesses and nonprofits within it. It can be as big as a local graphic designer or a nearby studio to the Freeman Arts Pavilion.
But with hard data, Kirschling said, the government can identify gaps — and strategize how to address them. The policy analysis, the project’s final step, will take a comprehensive look at the state, the three counties and Wilmington, Dover, Georgetown, Smyrna, Middletown and Milford and possible ways forward.
Those cities were selected because of the criteria for funding in the economic study, map and policy plan. The US Economic Development Administration’s American Recovery Program Act (ARPA) Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation program awarded grants to projects that advance economic recovery in communities „hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation industries.” Governor John Carney also allocated a portion of the state’s ARPA funding to the initiative.
Kirsling, who has been at the helm of the DAA for a year, hopes that the end result of the „Creative Economy and Cultural Tourism Recovery and Development Plan” will create a blueprint to help artists continue to do the work they love.
„I’ve been around the state and talked to different arts organizations, and one of the common themes I hear is the excitement of being in Delaware and how they feel a deep connection to the community. Another is that they said they moved to Philly because that’s where they have to live, but they want to be here,” he said. said. „There’s an appetite for this. I believe we can have both in Delaware with deliberate policy and infrastructure to support it.”
Artists and creative business owners are asked to complete the survey by October 15. The survey can be found here: www.delawareartsalliance.org/survey/
For more information on the scheme, visit www.delawareartsalliance.org/creativeeconomy For more information.
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