Wherever there are people, there is art. Sadly, wherever there is art, there are few creatives who can earn a living solely from their work. Nowhere are those facts more apparent than in New Mexico, one of the most rural states in the Union, yet one laden with artistic riches. 

Encounter Culture host Charlotte Jusinski explores the benefits of and mechanics for funding New Mexico’s robust artistic community with two women who know local arts advocacy best. Michelle Laflamme-Childs is executive director at New Mexico Arts, which oversees the distribution of state and federal funds to arts organizations in every corner of this land of (artistic) enchantment. She’s joined by Rose Eason, director of gallupARTS, the nonprofit arts council of Gallup and McKinley County in the western part of the state. The trio discuss the breadth of New Mexico’s art scene and how important art is for the state’s landscapes: cultural, educational, and perhaps most importantly, economic.

There’s an intrinsic value to art. That’s true whether the art in question is a painting, a play, or a poetry slam held at a tiny theatre in the most remote corner of this state. And yet… talking about money to fund the arts feels, well, yucky. Why is that? 

As audience members, we admire the end product but rarely do we consider the costs associated with its creation. Beyond the equation of talent and energy plus supplies are the line items for gas to transport the work, websites or gallery fees to promote it, and perhaps even child- or elder-care so the artist may attend a reception in hopes of selling that work. We applaud the courtship of new industry to New Mexico, but how often do we assign value to the exponential influence that homegrown art has on the social health, mental wellbeing, or economic strength of our communities?

One in four residents of McKinley county makes at least part of their living through the arts. One in 10 jobs in New Mexico is in the arts. Impressive numbers to be sure, but most of those folks aren’t making much of a living. New Mexico Arts and gallupARTS believe the state can do better. “Art is significantly more than a pretty picture on the wall,” says Michelle. It’s community, connection, and fuel for the state’s economic growth.

Learn more about gallupARTS and New Mexico Arts by visiting their respective websites.

Encounter Culture, a production of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, is produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.
Hosted by Charlotte Jusinski
Technical Director: Edwin R. Ruiz at Mondo Machine
Recording Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe
Executive Producer:  Daniel Zillmann
Show Notes: Lisa Widder
Theme Music: D’Santi Nava
For more, visit https://podcast.nmculture.org/

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