Arts at the Core of a Growing North Dakota Community

Posted by Terri Aldrich, Jul 13, 2012 0 comments

My community (Minot, ND) is in a very unusual position.

In 2011, a 500-year flood devastated our community and displaced 12,000 residents (nearly one-third of our population). This week marked the one-year anniversary of the evacuation sirens and many homes have yet to be “mucked out."

On the other hand, the oil industry here has created a growing economy, increasing our tax revenue and boosting airport boardings to record levels. Our airline traffic has increased from four flights daily to 18. We have had growth and devastation all in the same year.

During the time, Minot arts organizations and artists have helped to raise funds, raise spirits, and raise awareness. Our Fifth Annual Integrity Jazz Festival is a perfect example. Sponsors from the community stepped up to the plate to present this event free of charge to the public in cooperation with the Weekend of Hope, a celebration of a community rebuilding. Survey responses indicated that 30 percent of our attendees came from outside Minot. They bought food, gasoline, and artwork, putting dollars into our local economy while hearing some great jazz music in a beautiful outdoor setting.

The evidence of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts industry in Minot is detailed in the Arts and Economic Prosperity IV (AEP IV) data. The nonprofit arts industry has a $9.9 million impact that supports 225 full-time equivalent jobs. That number represents an increase of $1.4 million from the 2005 AEP III data!

Community leaders have recognized the value of the arts to our community as we rebuild and grow. At a recent meeting I mentioned the importance of the arts to the identity and future of our community. The head of our community foundation responded adding that we must remember as we rebuild, that Minot is not just about Sheetrock, plywood, and grass seed. He continued, stating that we must hold to and foster those beautiful things that set us apart.

Others began to catch our vision, speaking of our distinction as the smallest community to host a full-scale symphony orchestra (and a good one at that!). They saw clearly that rebuilding is a priority, but also recognized that building and sustaining the arts community is an important part of our identity and quality of life that will remain long after the oil boom has passed and flood damage has been repaired.

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