New division seeks to promote New Mexico’s creative sector

A newly established state division could help small businesses across the state promote local artists and creative industries. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently signed a bill into law to add the Creative Industries Division to the Economic Development Department. “As we strive to diversify our economy, we must lift up the heart and soul of […]

New division seeks to promote New Mexico’s creative sector

A newly established state division could help small businesses across the state promote local artists and creative industries.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently signed a bill into law to add the Creative Industries Division to the Economic Development Department.

“As we strive to diversify our economy, we must lift up the heart and soul of New Mexico: our creativity,” House Majority Whip Reena Szczepanski  told NM Political Report via email. “From flamenco studios; to potters and furniture makers; to tech, design, and architecture, this division will unlock the incredible economic potential of our creative and cultural industries. Boosting our creative industries will generate good jobs and a larger global footprint for rural, tribal, and urban communities throughout the state…In this first year, we’re looking for a dynamic and dedicated division to come together and begin this important work, and we will be working with the enormous team of creatives from every corner of the state that have been integral to passing this bill to make sure we succeed.”

Szczepanski, a Santa Fe Democrat, along with Las Cruces Democrat Sen. Jeff Steinborn, were two of the five sponsors of HB 8 which established the Creative Industries Division. HB 8 was signed into law on April 5.

“It really leverages one of New Mexico’s strengths and that is our creative talent,” Steinborn told NM Political Report. “New Mexico has 75 percent more visual artists per capita than any other state in the country. Which I think is the most impressive statistic that we all know to be true but it kind of tells the story of why this division is valuable to us and really a smart move is that it grows a very creative essence that lives in our state and will help to expand this desire for people to turn that creativity into jobs.”

The division will issue grants to individuals artists and entrepreneurs as well as to small businesses.

“We’ll give grants to both entrepreneurs and organizations that support the creative industries; Also help local communities with infrastructure that they may need to help support these sectors and help showcase them all right, so those are the kind of three buckets of funding in the bill,” Steinborn said.

This includes entrepreneurs like Chris Edwards of Roadrunner Emporium in Alamogordo.

Edwards and Alamogordo MainStreet were proponents of HB 8.

“(Alamogordo MainStreet) was excited to see the new Creative Industries Division. We were advocating for it from the start,” Edwards said. “We were pushing for our local House member (John Block) to vote for it. He opposed it and, luckily, our two senators, Senator (Bill) Burt and Senator (Ron) Griggs, supported it and both have a background in the arts and the creative communities.”

All three members Edwards mentioned are Republicans.

The Alamogordo MainStreet District which runs through historic New York Avenue hosts about 150 people in the creative sector, Edwards said. 

One of the members of the Alamogordo creative sector is writer, photographer and arts advocate Kathy Ramsay, who was also a proponent of the new Creative Industries Division.

“It’s very exciting to see this happening, because it’s certainly gonna be good for rural communities throughout New Mexico,” Ramsay said. “We have a lot to celebrate in our arts and culture. And this is a wonderful opportunity for many towns.”

Part of the Division’s scope includes supporting “entrepreneurs and small businesses in creative industries; assist organizations that support creative industry companies and workers; support educational and workforce training initiatives that facilitate creative industry growth and success; identify and help establish public infrastructure to support creative industries; serve as an information clearinghouse by providing resources and opportunities to creative industry stakeholders; and act as a liaison between creative industries-related businesses and organizations” except for the film industry which is covered through the EDD Film Office.

The Division becomes operational in July when it is expected to receive a $2 million one-time appropriation, EDD spokesman Bruce Krasnow said. 

“The appropriation is one-time money, so as of now there is no recurring support for the Creative Industries Division,” Krasnow said. “As a result, the agency plans to meet with the bill sponsors and the Governor’s Office in the coming weeks to determine funding priorities for this money and the best way to advance creative industries in the state within the parameters of this spending mandate.”

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