By James Neal, Staff Writer
ENID, Okla. —
Enid Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Marcy Jarrett was selected this week to represent Enid in the 2013 Leadership Arts class, a program of the Oklahoma Arts Council.
Jarrett said she was honored to be selected, and she hopes to use the Leadership Arts experience to help harness the economic potential for the arts in Enid.
Jarrett was one of 32 people selected from 22 Oklahoma communities for the 2013 Leadership Arts program.
According to an Oklahoma Arts Council press release, class members will “receive in-depth instruction on how to use local arts and cultural resources for economic development, improved education, and enhanced quality of life.”
The 2013 class includes business owners, civic leaders, chamber of commerce and convention and visitor bureau officials, nonprofit art organization directors, artists, and educators, according to the release.
“We’re excited to be reaching new communities through the Leadership Arts program this year,” said Molly O’Connor, Oklahoma Arts Council cultural development director. “Past graduates are actively utilizing what they learned through Leadership Arts to advance the arts in their home communities.”
Some of Enid’s Leadership Arts graduates said the program highlights the mutually beneficial relationship between the arts and economic development.
Enid Regional Development Alliance Associate Director Lisa Powell said Leadership Arts is a valuable networking opportunity, from the perspective of advancing both the arts and economic development.
Powell was one of six people from Enid to participate in the Leadership Arts 2010 class.
“The experience is tremendous,” Powell said. “It focuses directly on the arts, and on the impact the arts can have on building a community.”
Powell said the Leadership Arts program offers community leaders a good chance to network with leaders from other parts of the state, and to learn creative ways to revitalize local economies.
Julie Baird, executive director of Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse, said people often underestimate the economic impact the arts already have on Enid’s economy.
Baird said her eyes were opened to the economic value of the arts during her participation in Leadership Arts, and an ensuing economic impact study of the arts in Enid.
“It made me more aware of what Oklahoma has to offer for the arts, and one of the things that came out of that was a group of us who had participated in Leadership Arts started working towards establishing a dedicated arts district here in Enid,” Baird said.
She said work is ongoing to establish an arts district in Enid. Part of that process included conducting an economic impact study with Americans for the Arts in 2011.
The survey found Enid already has a strong arts presence, with 600 cultural assets in the city in 2011. “Cultural assets” were defined as organizations that foster the arts, like Leonardo’s, Enid Symphony Orchestra and Gaslight Theatre, along with local artists and art items of historical and cultural significance.
The survey also identified 24 nonprofit arts organizations in the greater Enid area.
The economic impact study found in 2011, the arts generated almost $10 million in revenue in the Enid economy, including more than $5 million in direct spending by arts organizations and almost $4.7 million in spending by patrons of the arts. The revenue generation supported the equivalent of 334 full-time jobs in Garfield County in 2011, the study found.
The study showed out-of-town visitors spent almost four times as much as locals while enjoying the arts, in hotels, dining and shopping. Visitors alone generated revenue sufficient to support 118 full-time jobs in the county, according to the survey.
“I was blown away by that,” Baird said. “You wouldn’t think the arts would have that kind of impact locally, and most people are aware of what we have to offer arts-wise.”
Jarrett wants to use her time with Leadership Arts to build on Enid’s already-thriving arts scene and its impact on the local economy.
“This will be good exposure for Enid, and a good way to meet with other people from across the state and find ways to promote the arts ... and find ways to use the arts for economic development,” she said.
Jarrett said the Leadership Arts program enrolls a good mix of artists, economic development specialists, members of the tourism industry and state and city leadership.
“It brings all those people together so we can share ways to use the arts to attract tourism,” she said.
The Leadership Arts class will meet in five two-day training sessions across the state this spring and fall.
During four two-day spring sessions, class members will participate in panel discussions, group activities, and tours of community art spaces, according to a Leadership Arts press release.
The 2013 sessions will take place at the Quartz Mountain Resort and Arts Conference Center near Lone Wolf, the Coleman Theatre in Miami, the Forest Heritage Center and the Red River Museum near Broken Bow, and Oklahoma City. Class members will graduate during the Oklahoma Arts Conference in Ardmore Oct. 22-23.
Jarrett said she plans to use the experience of Leadership Arts and her position with Enid Convention and Visitors Bureau to try to bring the Leadership Arts program back to Enid in one of the future sessions.