Statewide ArtLinks conference to offer focus on economic contribution of the arts

by Nancy Peevy ([email protected]) 466 views 

Artists, arts organizations and community leaders will have a chance to learn about the importance of the arts to their communities at ArtLinks 2019, according to Jess Anthony, grant programs manager at the Arkansas Arts Council.

The statewide arts conference is sponsored by the Arkansas Arts Council and will be held on Oct. 6-8 in downtown Fayetteville.

“It’s a place to get ideas to take back to their own communities and a good way of letting the state’s arts community come together,” Anthony said.

Arts can drive development in both rural and urban areas across the state, he said. As evidenced in the event’s tagline, ‘The place we live. The community we build. The art we shape,’ the event will focus on how the arts help the economy, Anthony said.

According to a National Endowment for the Arts study, the arts contribute more than $760 billion to the United States’ economy, four times more than the agricultural sector and $200 billion more than transportation or warehousing. In Arkansas, the study found that the arts added $2.8 billion to the state’s economy and that 33,923 people were employed in Arkansas in some form of the arts.

ArtLinks will begin with a town hall meeting on Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Walton Arts Center and conclude on Tuesday with a keynote presentation by Andy Vick, executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region in Colorado Springs.

Highlights of the event include a walking tour of public art around the Fayetteville Square, a networking opportunity inside the new TheatreSquared building, tips on creating momentum in arts advocacy and ideas on creating creative place-making, community engagement and economic development through the arts. Three sessions on regional arts initiatives will also be offered, including The Unexpected arts festival and Artspace, which plans to bring affordable living/work spaces to artists.

Speakers for the bi-annual event include:
• Steve Clark, CEO and founder of Propak Corporation, and founder of 64.6 Downtown, a nonprofit created to drive cultural and economic development in downtown Fort Smith;
• Charles W. Fluharty, founder and president emeritus of the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI);
• Donald Gensler, art in public places project manager for the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission;
• Wendy Holmes, senior vice president for Consulting and Strategic Partnerships with Artspace in Minneapolis, Minn.;
• Kelsey Howard, executive director of Main Street Siloam Springs; and
• Allyn Lord, director of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale.

Conference locations include the Graduate Hotel, TheaterSquared and the Walton Arts Center. Tickets are $145. Registration and information can be found on the ArtLinks website.

According to the Arkansas Arts Council’s website, the organization “expands cultural and educational opportunities by investing in Arkansas museums, theaters, symphonies and other providers of artistic programming. By administering federal, state and private funds and providing technical and financial assistance to arts organizations, schools and artists, the Council helps ensure that the arts will continue enrich the lives of all Arkansans for generations to come.”