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Report: The arts generate millions in spending at Fargo-Moorhead businesses

Dayna Del Val, president and CEO of The Arts Partnership, leads a panel discussion at a Chamber-organized Eggs & Issues event in Moorhead on Tuesday, Dec. 5. Panelists included Karin Rudd, executive vice president at Gate City Bank, center, and Jodi Duncan, president of Flint Group-West. Dave Olson / The Forum

MOORHEAD — The arts are very good for business in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area, and they could do more if businesses did more to help the arts.

That was the message Dayna Del Val presented at an Eggs & Issues event the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce held here on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Del Val, president and CEO of The Arts Partnership, provided details from a new report that looked at the economic impact that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences have on the greater Fargo-Moorhead community.

A main finding of the report: Such groups generated $41.6 million in spending in 2015. That amount represented $17.5 million in spending by organizations and $24.1 million in spending by audiences.

The arts also support 1,533 full-time-equivalent jobs in the area and yield $3.6 million in revenue to state and local governments, according to the report.

While the economic benefits that flow from creative endeavors are significant, Del Val said much more would be possible if businesses ramped up their support for the arts.

"I would really like people to see the arts as a reciprocal investment, that when businesses are supporting the arts, the arts are coming right back and supporting their mission and their needs," Del Val said.

Tuesday's event included a panel discussion featuring members of the business community sharing their thoughts on why the arts matter.

Jodi Duncan, president of Flint Group-West, said she grew up in a family that was focused more on athletics than the arts, and she said her early approach to business was to focus on numbers and the bottom line.

"I probably was a naysayer of the arts until about 10 years ago, but I have been educated and happily re-adjusted," she said.

Part of that education, Duncan said, was getting to know the creative people who work at Flint and younger employees in particular, who she said as a group have a "much deeper understanding of the arts than the people I grew up with. It's been a really good shift."

Del Val talked about hopes she has for the creation of an arts center in the metro area, something she said has been crucial in moving other communities forward.

What makes such things work, she said, is a willingness to make them architecturally beautiful.

"Part of being sophisticated is having sophisticated buildings," she said.

Dave Olson
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