The arts are defined as “the expression of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

They also pack an economic punch.

In Alexandria, the economic impact of the arts adds up to $3.1 million annually, according to a new study by Creative Minnesota and eight other state and local art organizations.

“The arts are thriving in the Alexandria area,” said Ann Hermes, executive director of the Andria Theatre, formerly known as the Alexandria Area Arts Association, in a quote from the study. “Residents and businesses are strong supporters of them as patrons, sponsors and donors.”

Hermes added the annual reports from Creative Minnesota have been valuable in providing statistics on the impact of the arts in the various arts council areas throughout the state.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

“When the opportunity opened for taking a closer look at their impact for Alexandria in specific, I felt the information gleaned would benefit not only arts organizations in our area but those organizations that represent the economic viability of the community,” Hermes said. “By coming together in this initiative, we can use the information in a myriad of different ways to educate individuals, business and industry, organizations, educational institutions, and government on the impact that arts have in Alexandria.”

The Alexandria study is one of eight local studies that Creative Minnesota will release this year, according to Sheila Smith, the project’s chair.

“Creative Minnesota produces research about Minnesota’s arts and creative sector,” Smith said. “It includes statewide, regional and local looks at nonprofit arts and culture organizations, their audiences, artists and creative workers. We also have looked at the availability of arts education in Minnesota schools.”

Smith said the studies show substantial economic impact from the nonprofit arts and culture sector in every corner of the state. All Creative Minnesota research is available for free at CreativeMN.org.

The study found that the combined economic impact of nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences in Alexandria is $3.1 million annually. This includes $1.7 million spent by nonprofit arts organizations, and $1.5 million spent by their 89,624 attendees – which is impressive for an area of Alexandria’s size, the study noted.

The direct spending of artists in their communities in Douglas County on things such as art supplies and studio rental, is $2.2 million annually.

Other highlights in the study:

  • There are over 561 artists and creative workers in Douglas County. Creative workers are defined as people who make their living wholly, or in part, by working for for-profits, non-profits, or self-employed, in 41 creative occupations.

  • These occupations include: architects, choir directors, curators, librarians, art directors, craft artists, fine artists including painters, sculptors and illustrators, multimedia artists and animators, commercial and industrial designers, fashion, graphic and interior designers, set and exhibition designers, actors, producers and directors, dancers, choreographers, music directors and composers, musicians and singers, editors, writers and authors, sound engineering technicians, photographers and camera operators.

  • The most common creative worker jobs in the county are in photography, music and writing.

  • The average hourly wage for creative workers in Douglas County is $20.48, which is slightly above the average worker wage of $19.45.

  • Douglas County has a higher density of artists and creative workers in its workforce than would be expected, the study said, with creative worker density at 30.52 creative jobs per 1,000 overall jobs.

  • Spending by artists and creative workers in Douglas County generates $2.2 million in annual economic impact and an additional $261,244 in state and local government revenues.

  • Sixteen nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Alexandria provided arts and culture activities, with performing arts being the most common with 10 events. Participating organizations included: Alexandria Area Arts Association, Alexandria Band Boosters, Alexandria Figure Skating Club, Alexandria Public Schools (public arts programming only), Alexandria Senior Center, Central Lakes Concert Association, Central Lakes Symphony Orchestra, Douglas County Historical Society, Lakes Chamber Music Society, Legacy of the Lakes Museum/Minnesota Lakes Maritime Society/Museum, Prairie Woodcarver, Red Willow Arts Coalition, Runestone Museum Foundation, Selective TV, Inc., Theatre L'Homme Dieu and Vikingland Band Festival, Inc.