New Mexico has a unique set of cultural assets, including historic sites, museums, galleries, artistic communities, diverse traditional cultures and arts, and cultural festivals across the state. We have a high concentration of creative people–artists and artisans, writers, publishers, curators, historians, architects, anthropologists, archaeologists, preservationists, designers, craftsmen, musicians, educators, actors, and filmmakers, and more. New Mexico’s history, ancient and new cultures, scenic beauty, and diversity draw people from around the world and make living in New Mexico a special experience. The arts and culture industry contributes at least $3B to New Mexico’s economy, not to speak of its impact on tourism, a $6B industry in itself.
But this is not enough; more can be done. New Mexico is a poor state; our poverty rate for 2011 was second from the worst. Broadening our state’s economic base and creating jobs must be a high priority. Our cultural assets and the people involved in them are a great state-wide competitive advantage in growing our creative economy. The creative economy is people intensive; it requires relatively low levels of capital investment; it is nonpolluting and sustainable; it is a distributed industry and can become even more so; and it allows participation by a diverse spectrum of people from different education levels, regions, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
To achieve increased growth of the creative economy across New Mexico requires a statewide focus and emphasis. Nearly all states other than New Mexico have a statewide arts and culture advocacy organization, as do many cities. It is time for the state of New Mexico to have its own.