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Cultural Affairs crafting a network

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs wanted to know what to do to bolster the creative economy.

Now that it has some ideas – thanks to recent research it commissioned through the Bureau of Business and Economic Research – Secretary Veronica Gonzales said her department has begun acting on the recommendations.

The state has started putting pieces in place to develop an online network to link creative entrepreneurs. The process will begin with the formation of an “arts business council” that will spearhead the network’s development, Gonzales said. The McCune Charitable Foundation has contributed $35,000 to aid in the process.

The state also is finalizing a partnership agreement with UNM’s Anderson School of Management to fund graduate student research into what Gonzales described as “global competitive strategies for social innovation and entrepreneurship.” That work will ultimately inform the network’s design and focus. She said she wants to see a plan for the network within a year.

“The goal of it is to build cohesion in the arts and cultural industry across the state, and to have a venue for collaboration, sharing best practices, connections and training on business practices and resources, and also advocacy for arts and cultural industries,” she said.

Gonzales said her department is also taking other steps. New Mexico Arts, a division of Cultural Affairs, will have an extra $100,000 in its budget in the coming fiscal year, specifically for grants to arts businesses.

“We have a specific track for (creative entrepreneurship),” Gonzales said. “If we’re really successful with it, we can build upon it.”

Her department – through its arts and historic preservation divisions – also plans to develop a follow-up to 2014’s Building Creative Communities Conference. Cultural Affairs collaborated with the state’s economic development and tourism departments, and other interested parties on the initial event, which Gonzales said focused on using arts, history and culture as economic and tourism drivers.

“It was very successful and we will be doing another one, and we hope to make it an annual event,” she said.