The National Governors Association is encouraging governors to look toward the arts as a way to stimulate small-town economies.
Small towns that are facing economic uncertainty might consider looking to the arts, according to the National Governors Association (NGA). The organization worked with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies to create a guide for governors on how the arts can revitalize rural economies.
The NGA says the arts-and-culture sector not only brings in tourists, it can help small towns retain residents because a strong arts scene makes communities attractive places to live. According to the report "The Arts and Rural Prosperity," rural counties home to performing arts organizations experience three times the population growth as counties without them.
The report urges state governors to consider taking steps to support the arts in rural areas. For example, they can designate certain places as cultural or creative districts as a way to attract artists and visitors. Locally, Carbondale is a designated Colorado Creative District, which means the town gets financial support, training and networking opportunities with other creative districts.
States can also support cultural heritage or arts trails in rural areas. Here on the Western Slope, the Colorado Creative Corridor launched last year to bring visitors to rural creative districts. Carbondale is a part of the loop, along with four other nearby creative districts, including Paonia and Ridgway.
State leaders can also support the arts through subsidies for studios and performance spaces.
This year, the NGA will release an even more detailed playbook for governors and states to use to help develop rural arts and culture.