Fond du Lac arts executive weighs in on economic impact of the a - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Fond du Lac arts executive weighs in on economic impact of the arts

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - As a downtown arts project remains in limbo, Eau Claire hears from the architect of a 2009 development effort elsewhere. 

Kevin Miller is the Executive director of the performing arts center in Fond du Lac.  Wednesday night, he was the keynote speaker for Downtown Eau Claire Inc's annual dinner.  His message focused on the effort to expanded their performing arts center which started back in 2009.

"We posed the idea of the arts entertainment district, about that time is when people said this is nuts, it'll never fly, this is Fond du Lac," Miller said. "Then, you fast forward to five years later, there's a very significant story where we did a $7 million private investment on our arts center, but then that block around it that was filled with vacant and for sale properties has been redeveloped and that's about $15 million worth of projects."

He acknowledged the differences between that project and Eau Claire's, namely the higher level of private investment.  But he also says the confluence could have the same kind of impact he has seen in Fond du Lac

"We've seen this tremendous transformation and using the arts as that spring board for great growth and other opportunity," he said. "There are folks that are benefiting from this that can give a rip about who the artist is this month or what's the next gig. But when you talk to our employers and our largest employers their thrilled with this cause they can actually make an investment in the community."

Both Miller and the City of Fond du Lac told us no taxpayer money is used to support the art center's operation annually

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