I was one of many in the audience moved to tears as Grammy Award winning artist Kathy Mattea described the impact of the arts on her life during a talk and performance for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Leadership Institute in October in West Virginia. "I am a person whose life has been shaped by the arts, a life saved by the arts," Mattea said, talking about how she had been good at math and science in school, but that music "woke something up in me."
"My story is the impact of what you do," Mattea, a West Virginia native, told the heads of state arts agencies from across the country.
Mattea asked those who work in the arts to "keep affirming the soulfulness of the arts."
"Thank you for giving me a dream and allowing me to live that dream," she said.
The story of the impact of the arts is a powerful story that we need to tell.
New Mexico Arts is partnering with a number of arts and cultural organizations to help launch a new statewide advocacy group, Creative New Mexico.
Despite being an important economic driver in New Mexico, our arts and cultural industries have never had a unified voice or singular industry champion to garner state and federal government support and to collaborate in state tourism marketing efforts. Initial members of the Creative New Mexico Steering Committee include Creative Albuquerque, Creative Santa Fe, the Historical Society of New Mexico, New Mexico Humanities Council, New Mexico Association of Museums, New Mexico State University Art Gallery, and New Mexico Arts, as well as representatives from libraries, galleries, and music and theater organizations. We have been exploring the best way to create a statewide advocacy organization to support, protect and grow New Mexico's creative industries.
We envision an organization that includes and serves all communities in our state and all arts and cultural industries, both public and private.
As Governor Susana Martinez noted during her remarks at this year's governor's arts awards in September, arts and culture are a $3.3 billion industry in New Mexico, creating nearly 60,000 jobs and $246 million in state and local tax revenue. "Culture and arts are a major attraction to our state and crucial to our economy," Governor Martinez said.
I want to recommend a new study on the creative economy by the Mississippi Arts Commission. At a Creative Economy Summit, Malcolm White, my counterpart in Mississippi, noted that, "This new economy is evergreen, authentic and local. New ideas, not money or machinery are the source of success today," White said. "Our creative economy gives us the opportunity to tell our story through our people, places, and products. It is ours alone and will never be able to be outsourced."
At a recent gathering of representatives from our six state-authorized Arts and Cultural Districts in Silver City, Las Vegas, Downtown Albuquerque, Taos, Raton, and Los Alamos, I was struck by the vibrant energy and positive momentum in the creative economy that is happening across our state. We have so many stories to tell in New Mexico and we are blessed to live in a state that values creativity and innovation, which, as White noted, are the new currency in the global economy.
Our Arts and Cultural Districts also show the power of collaboration as this is a partnership between New Mexico Arts, the Economic Development Department's MainStreet program and our local communities. We're also working with Las Cruces, which is taking steps to become a self-designated Arts and Cultural District, as allowed under our state law for cities with populations of more than 50,000.
The New England Foundation for the Arts has just released a new study on that region's creative economy and the impact of the nonprofit sector.
Thanks to the efforts of Carol Cooper, our New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails continue to get national recognition including this feature in the October issue of Cowboys & Indians magazine.
Our advisory New Mexico Arts Commission approved about $1 million in total funding for 163 arts organizations and eight folk arts apprenticeships for FY2012. Our arts grants, which we administer as arts services contracts, are competitive. We managed once again to hold our regular arts grants budget flat this year, despite taking still more hits to our state funding - our programming budget has been cut by more than 30 percent in the last few years due to our state's budget shortfall. What have saved our regular arts grants from cuts were one-time increases in recent years to our federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. But we would not be able to hold the line if our federal funding were to be cut, which is why advocacy both at the state and federal level is so important. So please be sure to thank our governor, state legislators and Congressional delegation for supporting arts funding, and let them know the value of this investment in our communities. And please do get involved in Creative New Mexico and let's tell our stories.