An open letter of thanks to Wyoming Arts Council Director Michael Lange
June 22, 2023
They say that change is the only constant thing in the universe, but Michael Lange’s upcoming departure from the Wyoming Arts Council will be one of those changes that will be felt by all!
We appreciate Michael’s dedication and hard work of moving the arts forward in our state. The behind-the-scenes work often is not recognized but we are grateful for his dedication. From keeping budgets intact, the level of effectiveness when staff cuts had to be made, and looking out for all the communities in our state where the arts do matter, these things did not go unnoticed.
Michael has also brought growing recognition of the significant contribution that the arts and creative industries make to Wyoming’s economy. As budget discussions are underway, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of increasing funding for the Wyoming Arts Council. By investing in the arts, we can harness the economic potential of Wyoming’s creative sector and strengthen our overall economy. Contrary to the notion that the arts are merely a form of leisure or entertainment, they play a pivotal role in driving economic development. The creative economy encompasses a broad spectrum of industries, including visual arts, performing arts, design, media, and more. Wyoming’s creative sector generates employment, fosters entrepreneurship, attracts tourists, and stimulates ancillary businesses.
By investing in the Wyoming Arts Council, we create an environment conducive to the growth and sustainability of these industries, fostering economic diversity beyond traditional sectors like energy and agriculture.
A thriving arts community provides significant employment opportunities, particularly for artists, performers, designers, and artisans. Increasing funding for the Wyoming Arts Council would enable the expansion of grant programs, scholarships, and educational initiatives, empowering local creatives to pursue their passions and contribute to the economy. Moreover, the arts sector fuels entrepreneurship, as artists often establish small businesses, galleries, studios, and cultural enterprises. By supporting the creative economy, we promote the growth of small businesses, job creation, and the cultivation of a dynamic and innovative workforce.
Art and culture are powerful magnets for tourism, drawing visitors to explore and experience the unique cultural heritage of a region. Wyoming’s breathtaking landscapes already attract countless tourists, but by bolstering the creative economy, we can provide additional attractions that enhance their overall experience. Investments in the Wyoming Arts Council will enable the development of cultural events, festivals, exhibitions, and public art installations that not only enrich the lives of residents but also captivate visitors. By highlighting our artistic and cultural assets, we can extend the duration of tourist stays, increase spending in local businesses, and boost revenue for the state.
The arts are an integral part of our identity, enriching our lives, and enhancing our well-being. By investing in the Wyoming Arts Council, we ensure that residents have access to diverse artistic experiences, fostering creativity, imagination, and cultural understanding. Cultural activities and events contribute to the vibrancy and social fabric of our communities, promoting inclusivity, civic engagement, and community pride. A strong creative economy not only attracts talented individuals but also retains local talent, making Wyoming an attractive place to live, work, and raise families.
As a lasting legacy to Michael’s impact on the arts in Wyoming, let’s ensure that his departure is honored by a new investment in our state’s future. By recognizing the immense economic potential of the creative sector, we can diversify our economy, create employment opportunities, and attract cultural tourism. The arts are not merely a luxury; they are a critical component of Wyoming’s economic growth and contribute to our overall quality of life. As policymakers debate budget allocations, it is essential to prioritize funding for the Wyoming Arts Council, ensuring a flourishing creative economy that benefits all residents and future generations.
Chad Banks, Rock Springs, WY Main Street/URA
Debora Soulé, Community Fine Arts Center, Rock Springs