More art? Yes Please.


TheCreative 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 Amendmentwas 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.

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.


Report Highlights

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.

  • The study found that the combined economic impact of nonprofit arts organizations, their audiences and artists and creative workers in Minnesota is nowover $2.167 billion annually, an increase of$167 million since the previous 2017 Creative Minnesota study.
  • This includes $902 millionspent by nonprofit arts organizations, $594 millionspent 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 economy 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 economyof 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.

Nonprofit Arts and Cluture Organizations and Their Audiences

1903 nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Minnesota served23.2 million attendeesatarts and cultural events in 2016. This is a growth of 8.7 million attendeessince the passage of the Legacy Amendment, and a growth of 1.3 millionfrom just two years ago.








OTHER* :377

TOTAL: 190

*OTHER includes science and children’s museums, zoos, and arts and culture programs housed in non-arts nonprofits and local governments. 

  • 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 yearin arts and culture activities provided by these nonprofits.


Artists and Creative Workers

Creative Minnesota 2019 found that there are over 108,755 artists and creative workersin 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.


Public Opinion Polling on the Arts

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 percentof Minnesotans, compared to 54 percentof all Americans, attend arts and culture events in the past year.
  • 55 percentof 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.


Arts Education in Minnesota's Schools

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 threeand 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 schoolshave 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 studentsattend 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 Schoolsreport 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 studentsat Charter Schools, compared to 38 percent of studentsat 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.


About Creative Minnesota

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


Major Sponsoring Organizations

  • Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) is a statewide arts advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure opportunity for all people to have access to and involvement in the arts. MCA organizes the arts community and lobbies the Minnesota State Legislature and Congress on issues pertaining to the nonprofit arts and conducts original research. MCA works with over 40,000 arts advocates in Minnesota. 651-251-0868
  • The McKnight Foundation: 
  • The Minnesota State Arts Board:
  • Forum of Regional Arts Councils of Minnesota:
  • Target:
  • Jerome Foundation:
  • Bush Foundation:
  • Mardag Foundation:
  • Perpich Center for Arts Education:
  • Springboard for the Arts:
  • Minnesota Music Educators Association:
  • Americans for the Arts: 
  • CURA Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota
  • Ideas that Kick: 
  • Minnesota Compass
  • City of Minneapolis
  • Minnesota Historical Society:


Headshot of Damon Runnals
Damon Runnals

Damon Runnals is the co-founder of Swandive Theatre with Meg DiSciorio, benevolent overlord of Minnesota Playlist, a local D&D Dungeon Master, and father to two amazing girls.