In fact, a recent report says nonprofit arts and culture are a $10.9 million industry in Buchanan County—one that supports 489 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $889,000 in local and state government revenue.
The Allied Arts Council of St. Joseph, Mo., is demonstrating this with successful programs, events and initiatives throughout the year that not only make a solid impact on the region’s economy, they provide countless impressions to plant seeds of creativity, beauty and inspiration — across every generation and walk of life.
Founded in 1963, the Allied Arts Council represents several member agencies with a common goal: bringing arts and people together. Not only does the non-profit organization stand out for it longevity in a smaller city, but it’s also reaching out to the community and connecting with an impressive base of more than 2000 volunteers.
Core activities of the Allied Arts Council provide a sense of tradition and meaning to the region, including Trails West!®, the annual arts, music and cultural festival drawing thousands to St. Joseph, Mo., each August. The organization has taken a fun approach to promoting and branding this unique event, including a pub crawl to announce the festival’s headliner acts and a Patron’s Party, where guests get a behind-the-scenes celebration just before the festival begins. A large social media following also helps give the event a sense of urgency and connects it to area (and regional) music and art fans.
Arts education is another important way this group draws in a larger audience. Art programs in the schools are held year-round, and some at the historic and beautiful Missouri Theater by Allied Arts Council member agencies. A popular and successful event is the summer ArtScape program, essentially a multi-media art camp for school-aged kids, held in cooperation with the local university and other artist groups. Many of the children who attend likely decide to pursue a form of art in school, or as adults—creating a new base of advocates for the Allied Arts Council.
Leaders of the group and Board members are actively working year-round to advocate for the impact of art, demonstrating the numbers behind how art connects people to the community and produces a solid revenue stream. An Arts Advocacy Kit is offered online, giving the community a tool to start with as they get behind these efforts. Fundraising, naturally, extends from these efforts as well, including the annual Arts Fund campaign that creatively draws in donors with events like mini-concerts and art events across town, as well as a neighborhood beer walk.
Marketing for the member agencies is also spearheaded by the Allied Arts Council, believing that together, the message of the importance (and the love) of art is more powerful. Organizations can promote their events across the agency’s website, social media, calendars, and newsletters. Most local displays of public art, art in businesses and art in health care centers can be connected to the work of this organization, including recent artistic additions to the historic downtown streetscape in St. Joseph, Mo.
Art is indeed big business, and it’s critically important. It requires a bold vision, a willingness to continually reach out and a desire to engage others in the joy of art. If the past 50 years are any indication, the Allied Arts Council of St. Joseph will continue to connect and inspire – and today Susan J. Campbell Copywriting Solutions says “thank you.”