At the first of two arts and culture-based workshops between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, US Sen. Martin Heinrich announced his hopes to bolster the state's arts and culture based economy through training opportunities.
"This is how we keep what's so unique about New Mexico alive and thriving," Heinrich said to a roomful of curators and other such institutional arts workers at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center on Monday afternoon. "Arts and culture is the way we do that."
Dubbed Celebrating Culture: Workshops Supporting New Mexico Arts and Culture, the series is meant to demystify the grant writing and applications process, track progress, engage with federal agencies and otherwise strengthen local arts workers' know-how. Heinrich pledged further assistance in the form of letters of support and suggestions for classes both online and in-person.
"[Arts and culture have] a $5 billion a year impact," he said, singling out Meow Wolf and the International Folk Art Market as arts-based economic drivers for the state. "The spiritual impact is unquantifiable—but it means thousands of jobs."
Heinrich added that addressing arts education in New Mexico is also a big piece of that puzzle, saying that "we need to be building and nurturing the next generation of artist."
Mayor Alan Webber also addressed the crowd.
"Like most cities, like most parts of this country, even a place as amazing as Santa Fe suffers from community division," Webber said. "Too many of our kids are located too far away [from the arts], so I am eager to see what we can do as a community to take art to the people who don't get it as much as they should."
But what of artists who don't know where to begin, or who aren't tapped into the local museums and other such institutions? In a market as flooded as Santa Fe's, there can seemingly be no easy way into the arts world.
"I encourage them to contact my office so we can include them in events like this," Heinrich told SFR following his speech. "Oftentimes, artists don't know where to start, especially how to engage with agencies, so I would encourage people to view us as a front door to all of those things."
A spokesman for Heinrich said the frequency of future workshops or series is unclear for now, but that such artists would be welcome at the table when they occur.
"We're trying to build the kind infrastructure in the state where artists have onramps to defining the story of art in New Mexico going forward," Heinrich also told SFR.