Cook County Arts and Culture Economic Development Project

Project Description

The Cook County, Minnesota's, Arts Economy Committee, in collaboration with Arts Midwest, worked with a team of leaders from across sectors in Cook County in a series of planning retreats throughout 2016, culminating in the development of a strategic framework for economic development that builds on the power of arts and culture in the region. This framework identifies specific strategies to grow the Cook County arts and culture economy, as well as shape pathways to implementation.
Cook County has benefited from a thriving arts economy for many decades, through the many arts organizations, galleries, and individual artists who live and work here, as well as through a general interest in creative expression throughout the community on the part of residents and visitors alike. Through the assessment process as a part of this 2016 work, it was found that “this region benefits from over $10 million dollars in economic impact from the nonprofit arts and culture sector.” This project was predicated on identifying pathways for the arts and culture sector to continue to grow and thrive for many years to come; strategies that build on the deep history and unique nature of our peoples, our stunning natural environment and our rural location, as well as build upon previous and current planning efforts undertaken in the county.
The final Strategic Roadmap document can be found here.  In addition to this summary document, detailed implementation work plans were created.

What were the goals of this work?

  • Build an understanding of and commitment to the arts as a key economic driver for the region.
  • Agreement on a development framework that outlines key strategies toward a strong future and the pathways to achieve them.
  • Build a network of leadership, partnerships, and alliances to propel the work forward.

Arts Economy Committee

This processwas convened by  The Cook County, MN, Arts Economy Committee:
  • Amy Demmer, Executive Director, Grand Marais Art Colony (committee chair)
  • Betsy Bowen, printmaker and owner of Betsy Bowen Studio & Galleries
  • Jim Boyd, Executive Director,  Cook County Chamber of Commerce
  • Tom Christiansen, Sculptor and owner of Last Chance Gallery and Studios
  • Jessa Frost, Program Director, North House Folk School
  • Jan Sivertson, Owner of Sivertson Gallery, Cook County Commissioner, & Board of Directors of Minnesota State Arts Board