Kenosha News Coverage of 2/09/17 Community Conversation

Group: Arts can boost economy

Friday, February 10, 2017
Kenosha’s economy can benefit from the same creative forces that encourage cultural and artistic endeavors to flourish.
More than 50 people with that in mind met to examine strategies developed by the Kenosha Commission on the Arts during “a community conversation” Thursday night at Kenosha Fusion.
Their discussions will helped to create a framework for the Kenosha Creative Economy Strategic Plan that is being compiled and analyzed through a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Bolz Center for Arts Administration.
Amy Greil, commission chairwoman, said a common understanding of a “creative economy” relies upon new ideas, rather than money, machinery or capital, to drive its success.
The concept, which was originally defined by British economist John Hawkins, has seen communities further their growth whether through manufacturing, retail or through entertainment, among others, Greil said.
“It’s changing where people want to live, where they want to work… where they think, invent and produce,” she said.
By contrast, a economy that develops with creative input differs from one based in industry where repetition is valued and in production “quantity is favored over quality.”
“Increasingly our community, our region and our nation are moving in towards this model, where it’s not about repetition, it’s about uniqueness,” Greil said. “Creative faculties are really kind of the prime source of value.
The workshop included a presentation of eight strategies, three of which emerged with frequency during conversations that took place among 10 groups that participated in prioritizing sessions.
The most common themes to emerge involved establishing places to engage in cultural activities, revitalizing neighborhoods through art and improving the success of small business by encouraging organizations that help facilitate economic growth.
Other strategies discussed included:
– Establishing working and living areas for artists;
– Bolstering funding for cultural and artistic endeavors;
– Securing partnerships between art institutions and the local business;
– Improving community marketing;
– Working with educational systems to prepare youth for creative careers.
“This conversation is far from over,” Greil said. “We’re going to continue to refine the process here so we know what we’re after and use the information to advance the ball just a little farther down the field.
A second meeting is expected to take place March 7 at the Uptown Library. The results from strategies that emerge from both meetings will then be presented April 28.