|Organization:||Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee|
|Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett proclaiming January 19 as "Creativity Works Day" in the City of Milwaukee. Photograph courtsey of Zaitz Photography.|
Creativity Works in Milwaukee
On January 19, 2011, the Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee, in partnership with the Greater Milwaukee Committee, unveiled Creativity Works!—a year-long study on the creative economy potential of the region’s seven counties. The project aims to define and understand the Milwaukee region’s creative industries—the individuals, organizations, and businesses whose products and services originate in artistic, cultural, creative, and/or aesthetic content. More than 2,000 people participated in surveys, public events, focus groups, etc. for this year-long study.
The roots of this project took hold in 2008 when the Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee, a membership organization that provides programs and services to support the region’s arts and culture, completed a regional study on the arts and culture sector that was commissioned by the Greater Milwaukee Committee, a private sector civic organization whose mission is to contribute to the cultural and economic base of the Milwaukee. At the time, the study recommended a planning process for the creative community incorporating for-profit businesses, nonprofit arts and culture, and individual artists and creative workers.
A Creative Coalition, under management of the Alliance, was formed and was charged with creating a clear vision to support and grow the region’s considerable creative assets. It was determined that the focus would be on a strategic plan to identify, determine the economic significance, and leverage the region’s creative assets.
The Cultural Alliance received a $146,250 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration in late 2009 to help fund the planning process. A national search for a consultant was conducted and research began in January 2010 with Mt. Auburn Associates, and the project was branded Creativity Works!
The final report for Creativity Works! defines, inventories, and maps the enterprises and occupations within the creative industries. It analyzes the support structures, identifies strengths and challenges, profiles the creative industries in each of the seven counties, and provides a list of suggested recommendations.
Some of the key findings from the process include:
- Creative industries are a significant economic industry with penetration across all businesses and counties;
- Connecting and convening the creative industries is critical to the sector sustaining its impact, attracting more talent, and growing to its potential; and
- A strong support system to integrate all the creative industries is crucial but currently does not exist.
President and Executive Director Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee Christine Harris said, “The bottom line is that this creative industries work has provided the best reasoned rationale for recognizing the value of the nonprofit arts/culture sector that we have seen in decades; and it provides the best opportunity ever to integrate and communicate our value and contribution across our region.” Her advice for the arts community is:
- Support for the nonprofit sector starts with the premise that a “public good” is its mission, but all businesses must earn their opportunity to serve the community. The nonprofit arts community cannot be immune to these realities.Making a strong economic argument for the role of arts and culture is more critical in today’s climate than any other time in recent history.
- Linking all of the creative industries together provides a unique opportunity to reposition our nonprofit creative assets as a significant differentiating driver for our region.
- Integrating the creative industries provides opportunities for nonprofit arts/culture to connect with other creative businesses, which increases product and audience development opportunities.
The Alliance will continue to develop the creative industries profile and manage the implementation of a Creativity Works! strategy. The Alliance is in the process of transitioning its business model to support a full scope of services for the creative industries, and design and implement a strategic plan for these industries.
|Project Contact:||Christine Harris|