Clay County’s Non-Profit Art Playing a Leading Role in Contributing to Minnesota’s Economy

Creative MN wrangled up more than 50 other regional organizations.

MOORHEAD, Minn. — Regional groups found out non-profit art contributes billions of dollars to Minnesota’s economy.

With Moorhead being a big hub for art, they say the Clay County region plays a leading role.

For many people, the Minnesota side of the Red River is known for its art with the Rourke Art Museum, street murals and two major colleges.

Creative MN wrangled up more than 50 other regional organizations to find out why.

“Minnesota is the epicenter for arts and culture in this part of the Midwest,” said Sheila Smith, who is director of the MN Citizens for the Arts.

These groups just finished crunching the numbers and found out non-profit art contributes about $2 billion every year to Minnesota’s economy.

They say this nearly doubled the amount in 2008, the same year state lawmakers gave more subsidies to the state’s arts.

This includes the roughly $800 million spent by the non-profit organizations, $550 million spent by the audience and the $600 million spent by artists for resources.

“If you’re a potter, you’re buying clay, you’re buying a wheel,” said Smith. “If you are a singer or a dancer, you’re renting facilities to rehearse and perform. There’s a lot of ways the artists and creative workers themselves are contributing to the economy.”

Based on the data they collected, they found that the average salary of a non-profit artist in the Clay County region is just over $18 an hour.

“In Greater Minnesota, very often, a county’s creative worker wage will be higher than the average worker wage for all wages,” said Smith. “I think it’s because these days, with the internet, a creative person can sell online.”

With Moorhead acting as a hub, they say the West/Central region is one of the state’s leaders in creative business.

“It is a very good place, coupled with the wonderful geography and the lakes that we have,” said Maxine Adams, who is director of the Lakes Region Arts Council. “Pretty awesome.”

The data uses 41 occupations including dancers, singers, theater and even church organists.

For types of artists, photographers are the biggest group in the state.

With more young artists moving to Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes is a growing haven for creativity.

Members of the Lake Region Arts Council say they will have data on how much Moorhead’s non-profit art contributes by December.

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