Great Lakes Center For The Arts
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The Proof is in the Data

Performing Arts Organizations Drive Economic Growth in Rural Communities 

A report released on November 15, 2017 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)  highlights the importance of performing art organizations in rural America. With its expansive, verdant forests, the blue waters of the Great Lakes, and unparalleled natural beauty, rural Northern Michigan is an exciting example of the importance of the performing arts in strong and thriving rural communities.

Based primarily on 2014 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS), the NEA’s Rural Arts, Design, and Innovation in America: Research Findings from the Rural Establishment Innovation Survey, concludes that “rural arts organizations draw more non-local audiences to their venues and report greater civic leadership and customer connectedness than their urban peers.”

In Northern Michigan, tourism is an economic driver and increased cultural tourism will have a positive impact on the region. The ERS data proves that performing arts organizations “attract more outside visitors to their programs than do urban arts organizations. Those visitors spend money on admissions, parking, dining, etc. adding to the local economy.”  

Attracting and retaining employees in rural areas is a high -priority. As Northern Michigan businesses strive to compete for the best and brightest, they understand the importance “of having local arts and entertainment organizations … for attracting workers.” Many rural communities struggle with young people and young families moving away for increased opportunities. The research shows that rural communities with performing arts organizations “tend to have greater population growth and residents that are better educated and earn higher incomes than residents of other rural counties.”

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts looks forward to being an important partner in Northern Michigan. Cultural tourists have already shown interest, purchasing tickets and booking rooms in area hotels. The Center itself has seen the impact of employee attraction and retention with the addition of Amy Rhudy – a young college graduate and native of Petoskey who moved back to Northern Michigan to work. Conversations with business owners, civic leaders and citizens indicate their enthusiasm for the opportunities that the Center will offer their employees, residents and constituencies. 

When the curtain is raised in July 2018, world-class performances, a robust education program and growth of the regional economy will all contribute to dreams coming true at the Great Lakes Center for the Arts in Northern Michigan. 

  • Theater
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Intellectual Dialogue
  • Movies & Film
  • Education