Northern Wilds Magazine
Along the Shore

Arts and culture means business in Cook County

St. PaulArts and culture enhance the quality of life, bring diverse communities together and make the Cook County area a magnet for jobs and businesses. A new study by the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, Cook County Chamber of Commerce, Grand Marais Art Colony, North House Folk School, Sivertson Gallery and Minnesota Citizens for the Arts shows that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a substantial industry in Cook County, generating over $4.6 million in total economic impact annually.

Creative Minnesota is a new effort to fill the gaps in available information about Minnesota’s cultural field and better understand its importance to the quality of life and economy. The Cook County report is the second wave of a concentrated effort to collect and report data on the creative sector every two years for analysis, education and advocacy.

Creative Minnesota found that 17 nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Cook County support the equivalent of 127 full time jobs and that 78,000 people attend nonprofit arts and cultural events annually.

Although Cook County ranked 16 of the 17 local areas studied in size of population, the county ranked seventh in overall economic impact. Cook County ranked third among the cities studied in this report, behind Minneapolis and St. Paul, in per capita economic impact from the arts and culture, with $889 for every one of the county’s 5,176 residents.

Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, said “The results for Cook County were a real eye-opener. I knew the arts were important to the area but the arts and culture footprint here is vastly out of proportion to the population. The arts are a core part of the county’s economy.”

The 17 organizations included in the Cook County study are: Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery, Art ‘Round Town, Borealis Chorale and Orchestra, Cook County Community Radio Corporation, Cook County Historical Society Museum, Empty Bowls, Good Harbor Hill Players, Grand Marais Art Colony, Grand Marais Playhouse, Gunflint Trail Historical Society, North House Folk School, North Shore Music Association, Sky Blue Jazz Ensemble, WTIP North Shore Community Radio, Hovland Arts Festival, Schroeder Area Historical Society, Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center.

Creative Minnesota was developed by a collaborative of arts and culture funders in partnership with Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA). The report leverages new in-depth research made possible because of Minnesota’s participation in the Cultural Data Project ( The first round of studies, released last February, looked at the state’s 11 arts regions and at the state as a whole. The other northeastern Minnesota communities that were studied include Virginia, Duluth and Grand Rapids.

The Creative Minnesota team includes Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, The McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Forum of Regional Arts Councils of Minnesota, Target, Bush Foundation, Mardag Foundation, and Jerome Foundation, with in-kind support from the Minnesota Historical Society and others.

All of the research developed by Creative Minnesota is available at

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