The Case For SB255: The Arts Drive Investment...And Need Investment

Posted: Updated:

Legislators are considering Senate Bill 255, and I am hoping that it passes.

SB255 was introduced by State Senator Jon Ford to provide a new source of much-needed funding for Cultural Districts. The bill proposes a system similar to TIF Funding: a municipality with a Statewide Cultural District can designate a cultural district development area to capture incremental sales tax and income tax to be transferred to the Indiana Arts Commission Trust Fund and to be used only for the benefit of the tax area. This clever strategy to find funding without increasing taxes or imposing new fees would reward, incentivize and continue growth within the districts, and would put Indiana on par with other states that have successful cultural district funding programs.

The Statewide Cultural District Program recognizes areas where the creative sector is driving economic and community development. So far, ten districts in Indiana have been designated through the IAC’s rigorous selection process (including three in Hamilton County, where I live and work!), and these ten communities are leading the way in demonstrating how the arts can drive investment, economic growth, workforce development, tourism and much more.

However, while these districts have been raising the state’s reputation and economic resiliency, the Districts haven’t necessarily been getting a lot of love from the state itself. The Indiana Arts Commission has worked hard to offer professional resources to these districts and encourage networking among the artists and organizations associated with each district, but they have had very little funding to offer to incentivize continued growth and investment. Until now.

This new bill allows Cultural Districts to benefit directly from the economic investment and growth they drive. The municipalities that would designate a cultural development area would be required to match the funds they receive, which holds communities accountable for continued growth in the creative sector, and highlights a very tangible benefit of the arts.

As the Executive Director of Nickel Plate Arts, I get to provide arts consultation for the cities of Noblesville and Fishers and in 2016, I assisted Americans for the Arts in conducting a study to ascertain the economic impact of the arts & culture nonprofits in Hamilton County. Twenty-one nonprofits qualified for the study, most of them in Fishers, Noblesville, and Carmel (all cities with Cultural Districts). According to that survey, “The nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $58.1 million industry in Hamilton County—one that supports 1,921 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $5.6 million in local and state government revenue.” And that’s just the nonprofits—those numbers would soar if the for-profit arts businesses were included.

This study also highlights how critical new funding sources are for our Cultural Districts. The 21 nonprofits studied spent $36.2 million on their programs and services. Very few of those nonprofits have endowments, and availability of general operating grants in Hamilton County is low. Although many of these nonprofits charge admission or other fees, those fees rarely cover all of their associated expenses. Arts & culture nonprofits cannot grow without new sources of operational support. As nonprofits grow, so will the audiences they attract and the for-profit businesses all around them.

Sure, it’s easy to roll your eyes and say that of course Hamilton County has the resources to support three Cultural Districts. But even in Indiana’s most prosperous county, survival for arts & culture nonprofits and small businesses is a struggle. Imagine how hard it is for the Cultural Districts in other areas of the state.  That’s why it is critical that SB255 pass next week: our cultural assets need investment now.

Big, cool employers want cool places for their workers to live and play. Their employees want to be a part of communities with creative outlets for their non-work passions and that have community-sourced mechanisms for dealing with larger social challenges and conversations. We all want to be a part of something meaningful, and each of the ten Statewide Cultural Districts are places to get connected to meaningful endeavors and creative outlets.

You can be a part of something meaningful right now: join me in supporting this new legislation to invest in art, creativity, and culture.

Ailithir McGill is executive director of Nickel Plate Arts.

  • Perspectives

    • What’s Your Biggest Waste of Money?

      Americans are in the age of reducing waste. There’s a big push to purchase sustainable products, reduce our usage of plastics, and recycle. But has this trend carried over to our personal finances?  Not really.  In a study by The Ascent, the financial expertise arm of The Motley Fool, more than 60 percent of respondents felt they have wasteful financial tendencies. Why is that?

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • POET ethanol co. announced in Aug 2019 it was closing the plant in Cloverdale. (photo courtesy: POET)

      Cloverdale Ethanol Plant Closes

      South Dakota-based POET LLC, the nation’s largest biofuels producer, is moving forward with a plan to shut down its biorefining plant in Cloverdale, leaving 50 Hoosiers without jobs effective Friday. The company tells Inside INdiana Business that it is not making any changes to the plans announced two months ago. 

    • (Image of downtown Shelbyville courtesy of Mainstreet Shelbyville Inc.)

      Shelbyville Unveils Major Downtown Redevelopment

      The city of Shelbyville is announcing what it calls a major downtown redevelopment project to boost overall quality of life. The project plans feature green spaces, increased parking, market-rate housing, and infrastructure for public entertainment and community events. 

    • (IIB Photo/Joe Ulery)

      Neighborhood Concerned About Old GM Site, Too

      As the city of Indianapolis and Ambrose Property Group squabble about the future of the old GM Stamping plant site in downtown Indy, a fight that could end up in court, residents who live near the property are weighing in with their concerns. Jay Napoleon, president of The Valley Neighborhood Association, says it’s important the mixed-use vision for the property remain intact. Napoleon and Ambrose Property Group Vice President Mali Simone Jeffers talked about the future of...

    • What’s Your Biggest Waste of Money?

      Americans are in the age of reducing waste. There’s a big push to purchase sustainable products, reduce our usage of plastics, and recycle. But has this trend carried over to our personal finances?  Not really.  In a study by The Ascent, the financial expertise arm of The Motley Fool, more than 60 percent of respondents felt they have wasteful financial tendencies. Why is that?

    • The IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering will now be named for Fred Luddy for his $60M gift. (photo courtesy James Brosher/IU)

      $60M Gift to Fund AI Center

      An Indiana University alumnus who founded the information technology firm, ServiceNow, has given his alma mater $60 million to establish an artificial intelligence center. The university says the gift from cloud-computing pioneer Fred Luddy is the second largest in the history of the IU.