The Power of Art to Resurrect the Economy

 

Lansing residents have access to a culture-rich diet including events, venues and wares. Arts and culture disciplines are essential to any community’s economic health, and Lansing can certainly use a dose of good health! Bob Trezise, president of the LEDC, says “While the board voted it into effect, Marchelle Smith was the driving force behind bringing this no-interest loan program to fruition.” Smith, the LEDC’s special projects director, explains, “Most people consider arts and culture fluff, but it’s a key factor in determining economic growth.”

If Lansing is to be a contender for companies relocating to Lansing and bringing new jobs to this community, it must think how these decision makers think. Heads of organizations must consider their employees and their families. How a community supports a company’s employees and its families is important to the overall health of our economy. Corporations considering a move take multiple factors into consideration, and arts and culture is one of them. “It is an area we can’t afford to cut, and the LEDC is making it easier for multiple arts disciplines to thrive,” says Smith.

Smith says larger non-profit (and for profit) organizations have easier access to lending institutions. The LEDC’s Arts & Culture Matching Fund program fills this gap and provides an additional resource. The LEDC has earmarked a hundred thousand dollars for non-profit arts and culture disciplines to get no-interest funding through this new pilot program.

“We have already approved three applications,” says Smith. After the LEDC’s board approves an application, the entity has four months to secure 100 percent match from other private sources. Among the criteria for this no interest loan are: The entity must be a nonprofit arts and culture discipline and organization, have a board of directors who participate in implementing fundraising activities, employ a unique mission that they are contributing to the city’s economic development philosophy and provide measureable goals and objectives for past and upcoming programs.

Lastly, while not a criteria, Smith emphasizes that priority consideration is given to those non-profit arts and culture disciplines that can illustrate collaboration with other arts and culture entities.

The no-interest loan is available to those nonprofit arts and culture disciplines located in the city of Lansing. Smith says they are emphasizing celebrated districts such as Downtown Lansing, Old Town and East Michigan Avenue, “which have significant economic impact moving forward.” Qualified applicants can obtain $5,000 to $50,000 under this new program.

Lansing is a city of robust arts and culture disciplines, including the Lansing Art Gallery, BoarsHead Professional Theater and the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, as well as a multitude of venues, festivals and events. To maintain the health of these entities, “we will perform annual reviews to measure the fund’s success and its economic impact,” Smith says. “And we are optimistic the program will help revitalize our community and economy as a whole.”

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