NEWS: DRA Offers Funding to Strengthen Local Economies through Arts and Culture

May 24, 2017

Delta Regional Authority Offers Funding and Technical Assistance to Strengthen Local Economies through Arts and Culture

Creative Placemaking Initiative Supports Community Development

MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA – The Delta Regional Authority (DRA), in partnership with leading national arts and government organizations, today announced the Delta Creative Placemaking Initiative to strengthen the Delta economy and improve the quality of life for the region’s 10 million residents. DRA will contribute nearly $460,000 to stimulate economic and community development efforts in local communities through the Delta’s arts and culture sectors.

“This pilot program recognizes the importance of incorporating the arts and culture sectors into economic and community development efforts to enhance the quality of place and quality of life in Delta communities,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill. “At DRA, we understand that we must support our region’s cultural and creative economies to assure the rural way of life will continue as we build more entrepreneurial and inclusive communities. That is why we are partnering with national experts in the field who can lend their experience to help us promote the arts and culture that make the Delta region one of the most iconic places in the world.”

Partners included in the effort are: ArtPlace America, the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Development Organizations, Springboard for the Arts, and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, among others. 

“The Delta region has a strong and deep tradition of artists working alongside their neighbors to shape their communities’ social, physical, and economic futures,” said Jamie Bennett, executive director of ArtPlace America.  “It is thrilling that the Delta Regional Authority will now make investments through the Delta Creative Placemaking Initiative in recognition of this history.”

To better align arts and cultural activities within existing economic and community development strategies, DRA and its partners will collaborate with municipalities, counties and parishes, local development districts, and other economic development organizations to form cross-sector partnerships with the region’s arts and culture sectors by implementing a series of regional workshops and providing seed investments up to $30,000 per successful applicant.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, arts and cultural make important contributions to the U.S. economy:

  • In 2014, the arts and cultural sectors contributed more than $729 billion or 4.2 percent to the U.S. economy – in fact, arts and culture produced more than some other sectors, such as construction ($619 billion) and utilities ($270 billion);
     
  • Between 1998 and 2014, the contribution of arts and culture to the nation’s gross domestic product grew by more than 35 percent;
     
  • Spending on arts and cultural goods and services in 2014 reached $1.1 trillion;
     
  • Employment increased by 3.8% to support more than 1 million jobs in core arts and cultural production industries. 

In Arkansas alone, employment in arts and culture grew 2 percent in 2014, accounting for about 35,000 jobs in the state and about 3 percent of statewide employment.

To advance these efforts, DRA will implement six regional workshops in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi this summer. The workshops are designed to more deeply inform local elected officials, local development districts, economic development staff and leadership, and other non-arts sector decision-makers about the advantages of supporting the creative and cultural economies and how to implement these efforts through regional collaboration and strategic planning.

DRA’s Creative Placemaking Regional Workshops will take place in June and July 2017 in the following locations:

  • June 26-27: Paducah, KY 
  • June 29-30: Wilson, AR
  • July 6-7: Greenville, MS
  • July 10-11: Vicksburg, MS
  • July 13-14: Tuskegee, AL
  • July 17-18: Arnaudville, LA

Local government entities, in partnership with at least one non-profit organization, can submit applications for Delta Creative Placemaking seed investments of up to $30,000 beginning today. In addition to the seed investment, successful applicants will also receive up to 50 hours of coaching, mentoring and technical assistance to advance creative placemaking efforts in their communities.

For funding details, visit: dra.gov/creativeplacemaking

 

About the Delta Regional Authority

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. To date, the DRA’s SEDAP investments, together with its state and local partners, have leveraged federal resources into nearly $3.5 billion in public and private investment into local small business owners, entrepreneurs, workforce improvement, and infrastructure development projects. DRA investments have helped to create and retain more than 37,000 jobs, train more than 7,300 workers for 21st Century jobs, and deliver water and sewer improvements to more than 66,000 residents.
Learn more at dra.gov.

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Media Contact:
Andrew Moreau
202-744-3558
amoreau@dra.gov