Study highlights economic importance of arts

Nearly one in 10 jobs in the state broadly attributed to arts or culture

Hannah Grover

FARMINGTON — Art and culture are some of the larger driving factors in the New Mexico economy, according to a study by the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs Cabinet Secretary Veronica Gonzales speaks Friday at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

The study was commissioned by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. Veronica Gonzales, the cultural affairs secretary, met with San Juan County residents to discuss the study on Friday at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

According to the study, one of every 10 jobs in the state – or 9.8 percent of jobs – are in a broadly defined art or culture field, including cultural tourism, art and cultural education.

That number is more than the number of jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries combined, the study states.

While New Mexico has a large number of its residents employed professionally as artists and artisans working in galleries and museums and in other fields associated with arts and culture, New Mexicans are less likely than people in other states to be employed in applied art fields such as media, advertising and software publishing, according to the study.

Gillian Joyce, one of the authors of the study, showed a map of the places with a strong arts and cultural presence in the state. Not surprisingly, the map showed that the Santa Fe area was one of the hubs of arts and culture. The other area with a strong presence was the Zuni area and McKinley County.

San Juan County has fewer people employed in arts and culture than many other areas of the state, according to the study. While there is a strong performing arts community, visual artists and artisans have less of a presence here, the study shows.

The study also states that "well paid and technically oriented artists are all but absent in the region ... and the stabilizing influence of art, information and cultural support (library and communications workers, etc.) is comparatively weak."

Joyce presented several policy recommendations for the state. One of the things she suggested was creating a website to encourage collaboration among artists in New Mexico. Gonzales said the department is currently looking to develop such a website, and she expects it to be launched in the next year.

Gonzales said the hope is to promote collaboration among the artists.

Audience members listen to a presentation by New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs Cabinet Secretary Veronica Gonzales Friday at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

“If we’re able to do that, we will be able to bring in more resources,” she said.

The website could also list resources available and help artists “keep a pulse on what’s happening out there.”

Another way the Department of Cultural Affairs is hoping to help local artists is to boost cultural tourism.

To do that, Gonzales said the department is looking to develop an app that is currently being called Cultural Atlas. The app will be geared to tourists to let them know what they can do or experience in different parts of the state.

Farmington artist and gallery owner Beverly Taylor expressed support for such an app.

“Why not start with us or why not start with one of the communities other than Santa Fe?” Taylor suggested.

She said tourists often already know about Santa Fe and what it offers.

“For an outside tourist, it’s important to know what else is within the state,” she said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.