Art-Force is a non-profit organization that stimulates and diversifies economic development in distressed communities.
In response to steep job losses and state funding for the arts in rural communities after the recession, Art-Force explored how connecting artists to manufacturing sectors in rural communities can create both alternative sources of income for artists and revenue for the rural communities. Art-force piloted a project in Lee County, North Carolina, a historic milling and manufacturing community, to see if this partnership of artists and manufacturers could stimulate job growth and as a result, strengthen the local economy. The report describes the process of creating the alliance, what it requires, and how it benefited the community. As a result, the report demonstrates how alternative strategies for economic development that involve artists can create an “artistic and commercial connection to place, reaffirming the community’s authentic identity.”