Colo. lawmakers: Jobs package would support arts

AP News
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Posted: Jan 05, 2010 3:19 PM

Three pieces of legislation designed to create jobs in Colorado's film, arts and other creative industries were proposed on Tuesday, state lawmakers said.

People too often look at the arts as frivolous or expendable during an economic downturn, said Sen. Linda Newell, a Littleton Democrat. But a recent economic analysis found that creative industries support 186,000 jobs in Colorado, making it the fifth-largest employment sector and among the fastest growing job clusters in the state.

"In Colorado, the arts mean business, jobs and revenue," Newell said.

The bills would merge the Colorado Council on the Arts, Art in Public Places and the Office of Film in the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, require contractors for all new state buildings to spend 1 percent on public art, and allow the state to provide $300,000 in incentives even if a film company doesn't comply with a law requiring 75 percent of a non-payroll budget in Colorado.

The arts provide jobs in Colorado resort communities when the ski season ends, Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien said. They also help rural areas like Creede, where up to a third of the workers are employed by the summer theater, and on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in Chaffee County, where galleries bring in more than $1 million a year from tourism, she said.

The state should reward people who add emotional and aesthetic appeal to improve Colorado, Gov. Bill Ritter said.

"While these are challenging times, Colorado is responding, and responding in a big way," Ritter said. "Today's proposals will allow us to continue making progress by capitalizing on the creative industry sector's immense potential for innovation, creativity and growth."