Arts contribute $2.5 billion to MI tourism -Lansing State Journal
The Great Lakes Folk Festival draws crowds to East Lansing each August.
Photo: Kevin W. Fowler/for the Lansing State Journal
by Kathleen Lavey
March 13, 2015
Michigan’s museums, art exhibits, music festivals and other cultural events generated nearly $2.5 billion in tourism spending in fiscal year 2012, according to a new report.
“It shows that arts and culture are significant to Michigan,” said Sarah Triplett, director of public policy for Creative Many, a statewide arts advocacy organization that used to be known as ArtServe Michigan.
“Michigan is a unique, wonderfully vibrant and creative place,” Triplett said. “However, there is a lot that we can do to nurture this that is not being done.”
The $2.5 billion represented about 18 percent of the state’s tourism revenue for 2012. Preliminary figures indicate that 2013 will show a continued increase, Triplett said.
According to the report, the $2.5 billion includes spending and jobs related to festivals and fairs, historic sites, museums, art exhibits and movies, concerts, theater, dance and zoos and aquariums.
The report also shows that arts-related jobs increased in the five-year span from 2007 to 2012 by 15 percent to more than 85,000 and that arts-related businesses increased by 65 percent to more than 28,000 businesses.
Unlike the three previous reports, this one includes the film industry. The state’s film incentive tax break has brought movie makers to Michigan — including big-budget location shoots in mid-Michigan such as “Batman vs. Superman” at the Broad Museum in East Lansing. But critics say the incentive costs more money than it generates, and the House narrowly voted Wednesday to scrap the incentive this fall. The measure now goes to the Senate.
Besides being attractive to visitors who book hotel rooms, eat in restaurants and shop local businesses, Triplett said arts and culture play a role in economic development by improving the quality of life in Michigan cities and town and making them attractive to businesses and new residents.
She cites Lansing’s Old Town as an example.
“It was the arts community that really helped build Old Town to what it is today, and a lot of what we do is centered around the arts,” said Megan Barrett, executive director of the Old Town Commercial Association.
That’s true on the street, where sculptures and murals are prominent, and inside businesses as well.
“Even our service industries that are located here are in the artistic field,” Barrett said.
Besides showing the importance of arts and culture to the state, the report also is designed to generate discussion about what else can be done to improve economic development through arts and culture, Triplett said.
“We need to take it to the state level to make sure that we put an emphasis on arts and culture in the state of Michigan,” she said.