Arts Commission announces research study on arts and culture in community and economic development strategies

Last Updated on March 28, 2022 by Indiana Arts Commission

(Indianapolis, Indiana) The Indiana Arts Commission (IAC), in partnership with the Indiana Communities Institute (ICI) of Ball State University, has released new research around how Indiana municipalities are utilizing local arts and culture in their community and economic development strategies. The research report, Planning with Arts & Culture, was produced by Emily J. Wornell, PhD and Brian Blackford, MPA of the ICI.   

The research surveyed Indiana municipal government leaders as well as tourism and Community Foundation offices. Goals of the study included determining: 

  • the extent to which communities view arts and culture as an avenue to achieve economic, community, and tourism development goals, 
  • the extent to which communities are currently working with arts and culture to pursue such goals, 
  • the priorities for arts and culture focused community development programming in communities without a robust arts and culture vision, and 
  • the extent to which communities would be receptive to capacity-building and training to prepare them for this type of work.  

Some key findings of the research revealed: 

  • An overwhelming majority of all respondents agree that an economic development opportunity exists in arts and culture and that it is important to include arts and culture in community and economic planning initiatives.  
  • Many communities understand both the tangible and intangible benefits of arts and culture to their communities and are already engaging with arts and culture in their community and/or economic development plans. For example, arts and culture can contribute to both local tourism (tangible) and a sense of community and belonging (intangible). 
  • No community has no arts and culture assets; however, the majority of municipal leaders who claim their communities have little-to-no arts and culture still recognize the value of this activity to economic development. Some leaders need assistance both in recognizing the arts and culture already present in their communities and in seeing those arts and culture
    resources as assets to build on.

“The Indiana Communities Institute has long advocated for place-based, people-focused investments to ensure stronger and more sustainable communities for current residents,” said ICI Executive Director David Terrell.  “This research shows that local elected officials and civic leaders generally recognize arts and culture as integral parts of community economic development, but work remains to more fully maximize the partnership between the creative sector and communities to help enhance quality of place and solve local challenges. ICI is excited to continue working with the Indiana Arts Commission to further advance the impact that arts and culture have in all areas of the state.” 

Research findings will inform the IAC’s strategic and programmatic planning around supporting communities as they employ arts and culture in their economic and community development planning. The IAC and ICI are working together on next steps to address areas of opportunity identified by the report. 

“Across Indiana, we see significant momentum around communities working alongside arts and culture to achieve shared goals.” said IAC Executive Director Miah Michaelsen. “We are grateful for the partnership of the Indiana Communities Institute to help us better understand where communities are in this process and to inform how we can best help both them and the creative sector capitalize on this momentum.” 

Read the full report.

SOURCE: News release from Indiana Arts Commission