Boosting the state's economy through the arts is one of the stated goals of the Missouri Arts Council's Strategic Plan Draft for 2008-2011. The organization hopes to accomplish this through attracting and developing businesses through the arts and promoting cultural tourism.
The arts are big business. A 2002 study in St. Joseph, Mo., put the economic impact of the arts industry on the community at $8.3 million.
Right now an independent film is being shot in Cape Girardeau. The monthly First Friday gallery openings draw big crowds. The city is home to many fine musicians of all kinds.
Two people in powerful positions at the state level have Cape Girardeau connections. The director of the Missouri Arts Council, Beverly Strohmeyer, used to direct the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri. And Dr. Joel Ray, a Cape Girardeau neurosurgeon, is the newest appointee to the state arts council board. There are people who can help with the city's percolating arts community.
How economically important the arts are to the city or could be locally is unknown. No comprehensive study has ever been done to gauge their economic impact. With the opening of a new performing arts center in the fall, the time has come to do so. We urge the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau to find the means.
Cape Girardeau is good at business. There is no reason we can't be good at the business of art.