While charities are a popular recipient of many businesses’ philanthropic dollars, another, less-visible cause is just as worthy—and a sound investment, to boot. The Arts Partnership (TAP) Executive Director Dayna Del Val gives us seven reasons why supporting the local arts is beneficial to both sides.
Dayna Del Val was hired as the executive director of The Arts Partnership in 2010. Before that, she had been an arts advocate in smaller ways: volunteering for arts nonprofits, attending events, etc. A Trollwood alumna and a graduate of the Theatre Arts program at MSUM, she has been an actress for more than 35 years. In addition to running TAP, she serves as board president of Arts North Dakota, a statewide arts-advocacy group.
A community’s overall health can be judged by how successful the arts are. Despite the overwhelming number of studies that prove how valuable investing in the arts is at every stage of life and across every spectrum, when budgets get tight or cuts have to be made, the arts are almost always the first to go. So when a city or a business has made significant investments in the arts and they are thriving, it’s often a sure sign that the rest of the community or business is doing well, too.
Today, people can live almost anywhere they want to for work so then it comes down to where do people want to live? Study after study shows that communities that have a vibrant arts scene, including galleries, museums, public art, live-performance opportunities and venues, and a strong collection of individual artists, draw people to them. And when the arts scene is vibrant, independent restaurants, pubs, breweries, shops, and other locally made businesses pop up, which creates an even bigger draw. This is all a priority for many young people and is often one of the big differences between relocating or not.
We know that businesses carefully vet communities for their viability to fill positions before expanding or relocating. The arts play a major role in that decision because, with a strong arts scene, it’s easier to attract talent from the outside, particularly those with families who are looking for how they will integrate into a new community.
What Exactly Does The Arts Partnership (TAP) Do?
The Arts Partnership is a Fargo-based umbrella nonprofit arts organization representing more than 150 area arts nonprofits, artists and arts-related businesses. Their mission is to cultivate the arts in the community, and they do so in four distinct ways:
A weekly content relationship with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead
An active blog
A weekly e-newsletter, “Connecting the Dots”
Talking to service clubs and other groups
Working with elected leaders from all three cities (Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo) and two states (North Dakota and Minnesota)
Networking opportunities for artists with each other and with the larger community
Through the City Arts Partnership grants, re-grant dollars from all three metro cities to area nonprofits making art.
In June, awarded $84,000 to 33 organizations
Raise private dollars for the Individual Arts Partnership grants, as well as having a funding relationship with Jade Presents (specifically for musicians) and Sanford Health—to award merit dollars to arts organizations doing outstanding work
“Ultimately,” Del Val says, “we are an arts amplifier and work to ensure that wherever we go and however we can, people are hearing about the value of the arts—to the economy; for cultural preservation; and as a way to work through complex problems, to reach at-risk populations, to attract and retain talent and business; and so much more.”
Attraction is one thing, but retention is quite another. Millennials will average four jobs before they turn 32 so keeping young workers is a high priority for many businesses. Benefits now have to include corporate culture and employee engagement. The businesses that have figured out how to bring the arts and creativity to their employees–such as TMI Hospitality, now in its fourth year of the Artist-in-residence program through The Arts Partnership–have a better chance of keeping young employees longer because of this investment.
The arts better prepare students to work in STEM-related fields. It’s a well known fact that students who are exposed to the arts, in any of its many forms, tend to have higher test scores, tend to be better at creative problem-solving, communication and the ability to connect seemingly disparate things. They also tend to understand how to work collaboratively, as well as independently. These are all skills that many 21st-century jobs not only desire but demand. And if you don’t have them growing up, it can be hard to acquire them later in life.
We keep hearing that many of the jobs today’s students will work in haven’t even been created yet. We are going to need an infusion of creative problem-solvers to address all the many issues that are going to face our metro, the region, the country, and the world, and arts investments–made inside schools and out in the community–will be imperative to developing those leaders.
The arts are a great equalizer. Every culture has art: music, dance, visual, theatre, oral and written stories, and more. While they might look and sound different, part of being human is to recognize the arts. One way to be a welcoming, inclusive community to those who are “not from around here” is to invite everyone to participate in the arts–to learn something about another culture or region through the arts and to learn about how similar we all really are through the arts. Events like Pangea at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County help to make everyone who lives in our community feel welcome and part of something larger. We need more support for more of that.
From a pure business perspective, we have a lot of job openings right now (approximately 5,000 on any given day in the metro), and that’s only going to grow at an alarming rate (30,000 in the next few years). Businesses are going to need the new Americans and others from outside the region who are coming to our community to fill many of those jobs. We could intentionally grow that subset of our population if we worked harder to make them feel welcome and to invest in their cultural background while introducing them to ours. Diversity is a good thing, and the arts can help make that transition much easier and more meaningful for everyone.
The arts just make everything better, plain and simple. Downtowns and shopping areas with excellent architecture, public art and spaces, shops to peruse and enjoy all the many kinds of art forms, and greenspace where outdoor performances can be created–these things are vital to our very being. It’s what makes a community more than a collection of people. It’s what helps us invest in our neighbors, care about our coworkers and work to continue to make where we live the very best place it can be.
How to Get Involved
If you’d like to learn more about The Arts Partnership or your company is interested in sponsoring local artists.