Arts Alert: Creative Minnesota 2019 Report: Minnesota’s Arts Economy is Growing


Contacts: Sheila Smith, 651-251-0868

Executive Director, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts

and Chair, Creative Minnesota

Creative Minnesota 2019 Report Shows
Minnesota’s Arts Economy is Growing

SAINT PAUL, MN: Creative Minnesota released a new study today indicating that the arts and culture sector in the state is growing in size and economic impact. 

The Creative Minnesota 2019 report includes statewide, regional and local looks at nonprofit arts and culture organizations, their audiences, artists and creative workers in 2016. New this year, it also looks at arts education in Minnesota schools. In addition, fifteen local studies show substantial economic impact from the nonprofit arts and culture sector in every corner of the state, from the Iron Range to Bird Island.

“The report also tracks how the passage of the Legacy Amendment in Minnesota and its increased support for the arts across the state has had a big impact,” said Sheila Smith, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. “It’s wonderful to see how the access to the arts and culture has grown in our state over time. It shows that when we support the arts, the arts give back.”

The Legacy Amendment was passed by a statewide vote of the people of Minnesota in 2008 and created dedicated funding for arts and culture in Minnesota, along with support for land and water conservation, and parks and trails. The legislature appropriates funding from the Legacy Arts and Culture Fund to the Minnesota State Arts Board, Regional Arts Councils, Minnesota Historical Society and other nonprofits to provide access to the arts and culture for all Minnesotans. There has been a growth of $657 million in economic impact from just arts organizations and their audiences since the passage of the Legacy Amendment in 2008.

Minnesotans strongly believe that arts and culture are important to their quality of life, and Minnesotans attend and participate in the arts more than other Americans. 


The study found that the combined economic impact of nonprofit arts organizations, their audiences and artists and creative workers in Minnesota is now over $2.167 billion annually, an increase of $167 million since the previous 2017 Creative Minnesota study. This includes $902 million spent by nonprofit arts organizations, $594 million spent by audiences, and the direct spending of artists in their communities, on things such as art supplies and studio rental, of $671 million.

State and local government revenue from the arts exceeded $245 million, including income and sales taxes.

Just looking at the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations, Minnesota has double the arts economy of Wisconsin (even though we have nearly the same population), eleven times the arts economy of North Dakota, and twelve times the arts economy of South Dakota.


1903 nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Minnesota served 23.2 million attendees at arts and cultural events in 2016. This is a growth of 8.7 million attendees since the passage of the Legacy Amendment, and a growth of 1.3 million from just two years ago.

These organizations served 5.3 million K-12 student attendees. There are approximately 900,000 K-12 students in Minnesota, so on average every student is participating six times a year in arts and culture activities provided by these nonprofits.























*OTHER includes science and children’s museums, zoos, and arts and culture programs

housed in non-arts nonprofits and local governments.


Creative Minnesota 2019 found that there are over 108,755 artists and creative workers in Minnesota, a growth of 4,607 creative workers since the 2017 study. 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 40 creative occupations.

Included occupations are: 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, camera operators. The most common creative worker jobs in the region are photographers, graphic designers, and musicians and singers.

24 percent of self-identified artists in Minnesota are employed full-time as artists, 42 percent are employed part-time, and the rest, 34 percent, are retired, hobbyists or students.


Minnesotans strongly believe the arts and culture are important to their quality of life, and Minnesotans attend and participate in the arts more than other Americans:

  • 74 percent of Minnesotans, compared to 54 percent of all Americans, attend arts and culture events in the past year.
  • 55 percent of Minnesotans are personally involved in creative activity in their everyday life.
  • 81 percent of Americans believe that the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world.”
  • 90 percent of Americans believe that cultural facilities (theaters, museums, sculpture parks, neighborhood arts centers) improve quality of life.



New data from Minnesota’s Department of Education have allowed us to take a look at students’ access to arts education in Minnesota’s K-12 schools. Minnesota statute sets requirements for arts education offerings, credits for graduation, and achievement of academic standards in the arts. Local control in Minnesota means that each school district decides how it will provide arts education to its students. Some schools are meeting or exceeding the requirements set in statute, and others are falling short.

This study covers one year of data from the 2016/2017 school year, in High School grades 9 through 12, from 482 public and charter schools serving 252,181 students. Information on more grades will become available over time. 

High schools must offer at least three and require at least one of the following arts areas: media arts, dance, music, theater and visual arts. Students must take one credit of the arts to graduate. 

Unfortunately, our first report on the availability of arts education in Minnesota schools is incomplete because so many schools have not complied with the mandatory reporting requirements. We cannot definitively say what percentage of students do not have access to the three arts courses that should be available to them in high school. It may be that their school has reported that they are not providing the courses, or it may be that the schools have not reported in at all.

  • So far 165 schools, representing 24 percent of Minnesota’s high school students, have not yet submitted their data.
  • Only 20 percent of high schools have affirmatively reported that they are providing access to the required three arts disciplines. They serve just 37 percent of Minnesota’s 252,181 high school students.
  • However, 76 percent of students attend schools that report they provide at least some arts instruction.
  • The most common disciplines offered are Visual or Media Arts and Music.
  • Traditional public schools are doing much better than Charter schools in providing access to arts courses. Only 6 percent of Charter Schools report they provide access to three arts disciplines required by Minnesota Statute, compared to 23 percent of Traditional Public Schools which have reported the same. In terms of the percentage of students in each type of school, 11 percent of students at Charter Schools, compared to 38 percent of students at Traditional Public Schools, have been reported to have access to the three arts disciplines. 

While the results are summarized here, much more information will be available at, including details from each reporting school, soon. Our new research is intended to be a tool for schools, principals, superintendents and most importantly parents and community members to learn whether or not their school is providing the state mandated access to arts courses and academic standards. They can then advocate for more arts education in their communities. 


Creative Minnesota was developed by a collaborative of arts and culture supporting organizations in partnership with Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA). The report includes both new, original research and analysis of data created by others. It is a long-term endeavor to provide hard data about the arts sector for education, policy making, and advocacy. We envision that arts advocates, legislators, local government officials, schools and parents, as well as arts and culture organizations, will use this report to find new ways to improve their lives and communities with arts and culture. Creative Minnesota research is available for free at