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Thursday, May 17, 2012

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Executive Director's Column

New Engines of Growth Continues a Partnership

NASAA Executive Director Jonathan Katz

In this issue of NASAA Notes, we celebrate the publication of the special report, New Engines of Growth: Five Roles for Arts, Culture and Design. It explores how this creative sector of industries, organizations, workers and skills can boost state economies because they

The report was produced by the Center for Best Practices of the National Governors Association (NGA), with funding support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and with NASAA, which provided significant guidance and background research. New Engines of Growth is the latest—and most extensive—result of a partnership that began in 2001 to provide state executives model approaches of how drawing on artistic and cultural resources can help address their most important policy priorities.

NASAA played a critical role in establishing the initial working relationship among the three partners. The critical decision maker for the project, jointly designed by NASAA and NEA leaders, was former NGA Chair Governor Mike Castle (R-DE). Peggy Amsterdam, then director of the Delaware Division of the Arts, approached him and we opened a conversation that continued through staff of the Delaware state office in Washington, D.C. Governor Castle expressed his willingness to support NGA participation, but wanted to be sure the idea would be welcome to other governors of both parties. He requested letters of endorsement from six other governors. Those endorsements were secured through effective communication by executive directors and chairs of state arts agencies with their governors and executive staff—and production of the first policy brief proceeded.

Over the years, this collaboration has produced eight policy publications discussing a variety of critical issues, such as how the arts strengthen rural economies and how arts education improves work-force development. An overview report, Arts & the Economy: Using Arts and Culture to Stimulate State Economic Development, summarized the variety of ways in which the arts and the creative economy can be integrated into state economic policy portfolios.

These items have proved to be among the most popular items on the NGA website and have been of tremendous value to cultural leaders and civic leaders. NASAA's gratitude continues to the NEA chairmen and senior staff who have demonstrated their commitment to this and other collaborations that foster public funding of the arts at the state level, and to the NGA staff who have edited and shepherded these resources through the publication process.

State arts agencies and others are encouraged to use New Engines of Growth: Five Roles for Arts, Culture and Design to promote the arts as an economic asset. For instance:

In addition to its value as a policy tool, New Engines of Growth provides powerful affirmation of the value of state arts agencies to citizens and to state government. The report helps to document how, in the context of difficult state economies, state arts agencies and their constituents have demonstrated remarkable creativity and resilience in adapting their programs, services and partnerships to produce tangible returns on investment.

As always, we look forward to your comments, questions and suggestions.