Brown County’s creative sector aims to boost local economy and community connections

BROWN COUNTY (WLUK) — The arts are alive in Brown County, generating nearly $12 million in revenue each year.

But efforts are underway to tap into those resources for the betterment of the community and the economy.

Painters, sculptors, actors and musicians — there are nearly 6,500 Brown County residents who make all or some of their income in the creative sector. There are approximately 80 arts and culture organizations and more than 220 for-profit creative enterprises in the Greater Green Bay Area, too.

According to Dennis Buehler, president/CEO of the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, “Our area is indeed fortunate because we have a large number of people engage in arts and culture and creative enterprises across our community.”

But as officials with the Greater Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Community Foundation, city, county and BAACA — the Bay Area Arts and Culture Alliance — have learned, the arts and culture sector is somewhat of an untapped resource locally.

“Unfortunately, a large number of those creatives and their creative businesses report that they earn most of their living outside of Brown County or leave Brown County to sell their products and services,” said Kelli Strickland, executive and artistic director of the Weidner Center.

Hoping to not only help those artists connect with work in Brown County, but also to connect Brown County businesses with local creatives, BAACA will be leading a unified effort to enrich and strengthen the Greater Green Bay community by supporting, promoting and advancing collaborative arts and culture.

There will be a focus on celebrating talent, creating community connections and cultivating a supportive environment.

BAACA will begin by working to connect those who want to see more creative activity with those who are in positions to facilitate it. It all starts by creating a directory of creatives by discipline.

“It’s unbelievable that, right now, we don’t have a directory to tap into,” said community advocate Beverly French. She added, “People will be surprised to see just how much creative talent there is in Green Bay. And when someone is looking to connect an artist, a musician, a dance group or a creative agency, they’ll be able to easily find it.”

As it kicks off this initiative, and a half-million dollar fundraising campaign to support it, BAACA is confident within a few short years, the impact of the work will start to pay off.

Strickland said, “Once the creatives start to find one another and the visibility of those events gets raised up and there’s a brighter light on it the activity starts to snowball. You see more and more creative effort. And, you see young people who aspire to such creativity remaining in the community to take a swing at it because they see other people doing it.”

Source: Brown County’s creative sector aims to boost local economy and community connections

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