Wisconsin invests less money in the arts than most other states, according to a new study from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA).
The preliminary report from NASAA finds that Wisconsin is ranked 48th in per capita spending on the arts. It says the state budgets $0.13 per person through the Wisconsin Arts Board. Minnesota is number one, spending $6.36 per person.
Arts Wisconsin Executive Director Anne Katz says the state could benefit economically and culturally from more investments in the arts. "We're really missing some great opportunities to add to the tax base, educate our kids, and keep our quality of life going." (Katz also heads the Wisconsin Public Radio Association, which oversees WPR.)
The study also found that with a slowly improving economy, states are once again investing more money in the arts. Governors in most states are recommending increases in arts funding for the next fiscal year. But the Wisconsin Arts Board will see a slight decrease in state funding.
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Katz says that 20 years ago, Wisconsin was in the "middle of the pack" nationally for arts funding. In 2011, the Wisconsin Arts Board's budget was cut by 67 percent. Katz says despite the funding cuts, more communities are turning to the arts to help boost local economies.
"People are finally realizing that the economy is not going back to the way it was, so we better do something to keep moving forward," says Katz. "I really see economic development people, city council members, mayors, educators, business people of all sizes thinking about what kind of assets are in their community and what can we do something with those."
Katz says more communities are thinking about downtown development projects, public murals, and arts education programs aimed at engaging kids.