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Gathering at Dover Downs highlights the arts economy

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Nearly 200 artists, singers, writers, musicians, comedians and filmmakers gathered at Dover Downs this morning to learn about everything from making art to marketing.

First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney and Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock spoke in support of the arts, which employs almost 4,000 people in Delaware and brings in almost $10 million in tax revenue.

Bullock said the arts industry is a $150 million industry in the state and it is also a draw for other industries the state is wooing. “One of the first things they ask us is “Is there anything to do,’ he said “We’re very very lucky to have the number of arts organizations we have here in Delaware.”

Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester stopped by the tables talking with artists. “I wanted them to know there are those of us who are advocates for the arts and advocates for them,” Blunt Rochester said.

J. Mack Wathen, chair of the Delaware State Arts Council, said, “The arts in Delaware are strong today, and they play a critical role in our state, and the arts are also important to the economic health of the state.” said

Paul Weagraff, director of the Delaware Division of the Arts, told the group that artists should expand their message to tell why art matters and how it transforms people.

Lorraine Dion of the Milton Theatre said she came to network and to learn more about public arts funding. Kelly Barsdate, chief program officer of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, was speaking on how arts’based organizations can make a fact-based case for funding.

Kay Creech of the Rehoboth Concert Band headed for a seminar titled “Broaden Your Perspective on Volunteer Engagement.” She said the five-year-old group hopes to recruit volunteers to mail fliers and attract donors. . One of the sessions focused on how volunteers can expand arts organizations’ reach to new communities and help them experiment with new services.

“It’s a good place for people who work in the arts to meet other people in the business and to just find out trends in funding and best new practices,” said Robert Munsell, director of Brandywine Baroque, who was also on his way to the funding seminar.

The program was dotted with performances by the Delaware Choral Society and City Theater Company’s Fearless Improv.

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