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Arts and culture boost North Dakota, Minnesota economies, studies show

A totem pole by artist Doug Coffin is installed Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, at the Rourke Art Museum on Main Avenue in Moorhead. The pole was moved from the previous site of the Rourke Art Gallery.Dave Wallis / The Forum1 / 2
Vases by Duluth-based artists Richard Gruchalla & Carrin Rosetti at The Rourke Art Gallery Museum. Special to The Forum2 / 2

MOORHEAD — The nonprofit arts and culture industry in eight northwest Minnesota counties, including Clay County, generates over $22 million in economic activity annually, according to the 2017 Creative Minnesota report presented at the Rourke Art Museum on Tuesday, July 11.

Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, said this number encompasses the money spent by artists, arts and culture organizations, and event attendees at 60 art and culture organizations in Clay, Becker, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse and Wilkin counties.

Smith said artists need to buy supplies, rent space and print programs among other expenses. She noted that people who attend events are often paying for dinner, souvenirs, gas and perhaps hotel rooms if they're from out of town.

The total government revenue generated by the arts and culture industry in the region is about $2.3 million annually.

"We find over and over and over again that the arts have an economic input, which seems to surprise people," Smith said.

The study found that there are nearly 3,000 creative workers in the area. Creative workers include those involved in the literary, performing, media and visual arts.

About 245,000 people attend arts and culture events each year, the study said.

The North Dakota Council on the Arts also recently took part in a study on the economic impact of the arts, according to a news release from the council.

The study, titled the Arts and Economic Prosperity 5, was conducted by Americans for the Arts, which surveyed 341 regions throughout the U.S.

The study found that the arts and culture industry in North Dakota generated nearly $110 million annually in economic activity in 2015, which supported about 4,000 full-time jobs and generated $10 million in government revenues.