A Sure Home Run: Leveraging Gallup and McKinley County’s Creative Economy

8 May 2023

News Categories, Press Release

By Rose Eason, Executive Director, gallupARTS

It’s the bottom of the ninth. The bases are fully loaded. Player number 8 steps up to bat. She swings. She strikes. And it’s outta here!

Pardon the obligatory baseball metaphor in honor of “Using Our Home Field Advantage to Grow the Gallup-McKinley County Economy” Economic Development Week, but I, for one, believe that New Mexico knocked it out of the park this legislative session in terms of the creative economy. The passage of House Bill 8 to establish a Creative Industries Division in the state’s Economic Development Department is a big win for rural economic development and statewide economic diversification, putting New Mexico on the path to a more sustainable and equitable economy. Sponsored by Representative Reena Sczczepanski (Santa Fe) and Senator Jeff Steinborn (Las Cruces), HB8 garnered strong bipartisan support in both legislative chambers and was signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on April 5, 2023. 

The state has long under-appreciated and under-valued its creative sector. Stretching between information, retail, service and manufacturing spheres and encompassing everything from visual, literary and performing arts to video game design to fashion to culinary arts, the creative industries are fundamental to New Mexico’s identity, culture, and economy. Yet, outside of film, the state has never before adequately invested in their potential. The Creative Industries Division is a strategic course correction, unlocking significant support for creative entrepreneurs and small businesses, arts and culture nonprofits, and local governments and communities. In broad strokes, the Division will provide support training and technical assistance, foster career pathways and workforce development programs, and supply capital public infrastructure projects.

Here in McKinley County, where the creative industries are already a key economic driver with 25% of residents making at least part of their living through the arts, we already have players on 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The Creative Industries Division is our Barry Bonds—a sure home run ready to help us get more artists and creative entrepreneurs off to the races, take our community’s largest cottage industry to the next level, and achieve major socio-economic gains. Gains like more business registrations, business expansion, higher levels of employment, more opportunities for young people, artist live/work housing, and, at the end of the day, a stronger families and a healthier community.

This Economic Development Week, gallupARTS wants to help artists, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and regional nonprofits prepare to take full advantage of the opportunity presented by the formation of the Creative Industries Division. On Thursday, May 11, we’re celebrating the power and potential of the creative economy and gearing up for serious growth with:

  • A beginning-level workshop for artists, creatives and makers interested in starting a business to dig in to the fundamentals with the Gallup Small Business Development Center (10am - 12pm at ART123 Gallery);
  • A Creative Economy Open House in which the public is invited to check out some of downtown’s newest and Indigenous-owned/operated businesses (4:30 - 5:30pm);
  • A Creative Industries Happy Hour for artists, entrepreneurs, workers, leaders to connect, network and brainstorm new possibilities (5:30 - 7:30pm at ART123 Gallery).

Learn more about these events at www.galluparts.org/creative-economy-day.

Rose Eason has been Executive Director of gallupARTS since 2016, during which time she has grown the nonprofit programmatically, organizationally, and impactfully, having secured and administered over $1M in state, regional and federal grants for the benefit of the community.