The Role of Arts-based Economic Development Strategies in Rural Georgia Communities

December 6, 2019

GMA & Georgia Council for the Arts

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A new publication from GMA and the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) focuses on how rural cities have used the arts as an economic development tool. “It’s a follow-up to the report GMA and GCA published in 2015 on how cities have leveraged public investment in the arts as an effective economic development strategy,” said Brian Wallace, GMA’s Director of Strategic Initiatives. “The earlier publication looked at the efforts of seven cities across the state. This new publication is a continuation of that effort, but with a focus on rural communities.”

The first three case studies focus on how each city capitalized on one thing in their community.

In Statesboro, it was how the city transformed an old bank building into an arts center, making it the focal point of its downtown.

In Zebulon and Pike County, a group of women started a photography festival that showcases the rural south, brings visitors to the small cities across the county, with the proceeds used to help preserve historic structures throughout the county.

The Cuthbert case study looks at how the city and Andrew College have partnered together by using the arts to revitalize the city’s downtown.

The fourth case study examines how two communities have begun to leverage the unique, one-of-a-kind experiences artists Howard Finster and Eddie Owen Martin created at their homes. Paradise Garden, outside of Summerville, and Pasaquan, located outside of Buena Vista, are key ingredients in each community’s revitalization efforts.

Download Individual Case Studies

“These are great case studies that show how the arts can have a positive economic impact on Georgia’s communities,” Wallace said. “We’re very grateful for the interest GCA has in highlighting the efforts of artists and communities in creating vibrant places to live, work, and play.”

To fund the project, GMA received a $9,000 grant from GCA, which receives its funding from the Georgia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

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