creative:impact - Keeping Members Of Congress And creative:impact Listeners In The Know

Apr 20, 2021

Peter Meijer Zoom Meeting
Credit Deb Polich / Creative Washtenaw

What do you get when you connect 13 Michigan members of Congress with 40 Michigan arts + creative industries advocates on Zoom?  Find out as Creative Washtenaw's Deb Polich and WEMU's David Fair discuss the state of the arts + creative industries on this edition of "creative:impact."

Deb Polich, President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.  In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.


  1. National Arts Action Summit –

  • Largest National gathering of arts + creative activists. 

  • Michigan had 40+ participate including 17 E.M.U. students studying arts advocacy with Susan Booth

  1. Arts Advocacy week – had meetings with 13 of Michigan’s 16 Congressional delegation.

  • Our goal was to communicate and illustrated the case for the Arts + Creative Industries as an industry and an essential partner with the education, business, government, economic and workforce development, , tourism, philanthropic, health and human services, public safety and other sectors demonstrating the interconnectivity of and integrating art + creativity into all aspects of community life. 

  • We asked our Members of Congress and their staff to listen, for recommendations and to keep in touch. you provided as well as your interest in keeping in touch. 

  • Encouraged by the enthusiastic bipartisan response.

  • Responded keenly to the stories shared.

Dingell Zoom meeting
Credit Deb Polich / Creative Washtenaw


Facts and Figures 

National creative industries – Bureau of Economic Analysis released March 30,2021.

  1. U.S. Arts + Creative Industries per BEA 2019 - $919.7 billion industry, 4.3% of GDP and 5.2 million jobs

  2. MI Arts + Creative Industries per BEA 2019 - $15.4 billion industry, 2.9% of MI “GDP” and 122,288 jobs

  3. Accelerate economic recovery: a growth in arts employment has a positive and causal effect on overall employment.

  4. Positive export - $30 billion net positive trade.

Stabenow Zoom meeting
Credit Deb Polich / Creative Washtenaw


Sobering impact of COVID-19

  1. 36.3% of all nonprofit jobs lost since February 2020 are in arts, entertainment & recreation. 

Add to this, gig workers and those who have lost their positions in the for profits arts and entertainment sector. Read the full Candid report here  and the COVID-19’s Pandemic’s Impact on The Arts: Research Update

Creative Washtenaw Aid receives $25,000 infusion from the Ann Arbor Area Foundation.

  1. When will audiences feel safe and return to arts + creative venues? This Audience Outlook Monitor tells us it will take months and maybe years after vaccines are fully available or herd immunity is reached.

  2. Being in the game with a level playing field – compensation paid vs. jobs/employment

  3. Creative Washtenaw continues to monitor MI Cares Act & Relief Act funding distributed by Ann Arbor Spark 

  4. $4.827 million of Michigan CARE’s Act funding in Washtenaw County for three programs: Small Business Relief Act ($327,000) + MI Small Business Restart Program ($2.9 M) + Small Business Survival Grants ($1.6 million.) 

Of that just, $17,500 was granted to two Washtenaw nonprofit arts + creative industries organizations and another $230,000 to for profit arts + creative business. The total of $247,500 is 5.13%

  1. $16 billion Shuttered Venue Operating Grant – In comparison - $16.25 billion vs. $6.8 billion in total appropriated to the NEA since 1966 (56 years)!

  • Expand on this fabulous example of bipartisan policy and investment and cooperation among for profit, nonprofit and single proprietors. The funds allocated indicates the magnitude of the sector as it eclipses the cumulative investments made to the National Endowment for the Arts since it was founding in 1966. 

  1. Follow up requests to MI’s MOCs

Please consider co-sponsoring, signing on to and championing these acts, bills and initiatives.

  1. April 27 Deadline – NEA Dear Colleague and Sponsor letters – please sign on!

  2. Put Creative Workers to Work policy platform outlines a plan to help the cultural sector restart and be a vital component of local economic recovery. 

  3. CREATE Act – Please co-sponsor this bill with Rep. Debbie Dingell and get it passed! It will, among other things, extend rights to artists and creative businesses afforded to others. 

Thank you to those who are and a request for others to join these caucuses.

  1. Michigan’s Members of Congress Arts + Creative Industries Caucus

  2. 2021 Congressional Arts Caucus:

  3. 2021 Congressional STEAM Caucus:

  4. 2021 Senate Cultural Caucus:

Additional asks and data

  1. 2021 Congressional Summary & Asks for the Arts + Creative Industries

More Facts & Figures – The 2021 Congressional Arts Handbook

Bergman Zoom meeting
Credit Deb Polich / Creative Washtenaw


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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at