Archived Story

Grants allow continued arts programming

Published 3:26pm Tuesday, September 7, 2010 Updated 3:27pm Tuesday, September 7, 2010

We’re heading into another round of “grant writing season.”

Thanks to the Legacy Funds made possible through the Arts, History and Cultural Heritage Amendment there are actually dollars out there available to artists and arts organizations.

I just got off the phone with a good friend, John Davis, in Lanesboro. (Some of you might remember him. He’s the guy who started New York Mills Regional Cultural Center and invented “The Great American Think Off.”)

So, why would he ask MY advice? John is a genius.  Maybe because last year we were successful with three grants to the Minnesota State Arts Board to help make the arts more affordable to everyone.

The Arts Access Grant made it possible for students all ages to participate in the Summer Arts Academy for only $15 for two weeks.

The Arts Learning Grant makes it possible for us to do a whole lot with “storytelling” throughout the year and to build momentum for a Story Telling Festival next summer — which would be basically free and open to the public. The Arts Touring Grant was for five touring programs to come to Fergus Falls and go from A Center for the Arts to 3 other surrounding communities.

“It’s all about sharing.”  In the case of Arts Access, we’re sharing opportunities with people who can’t always find access through transportation (we’re taking the arts to people) through affordability ($15 registration fees) and through past experience (bringing people to an arts experience for the first time).

For Arts Learning we’re sharing the dollars for storytelling with other non-profits in the community as we plan “together.”

These include Kaddatz Galleries, the schools, the libraries, the Historical Society and the Senior Centers.

For Touring we’re sharing with about a dozen other communities in the region.

So, the sharing continues.  We are actually able to have a whole lot more for a whole lot less by having multiple revenue streams and resources.  Sharing also helps with this as  we’ve already discovered  in past collaborations.  Now it’s time to take these experiences even deeper into the community and the region.

At the same time, competition for these grant dollars becomes even more stringent as the economy struggles and as other organizations and individuals have needs.

For instance, the upcoming West Central Area Guitar Summit, did NOT receive financial help from Legacy Funds, even though we wrote a grant to help underwrite the costs.

This also does not mean that we would, could, or should give up a program that truly fits with our mission and vision for the arts to help put Fergus Falls on the map.

This first year we want the West Central Guitar Summit to gain momentum for future years and for future funding.  This year’s Guitar Summit, which takes place Sept. 9, 10 and 11 will include three evenings of concerts (Sept. 9 at M State Waage Theater, Sept. 10 and 11 at A Center for the Arts downtown).

It also includes two days of workshops (12 total at MState and at The Spot) and three nights of Jam Sessions at the Spot following each concert.  Check out details at

It also means that our fund raising efforts are just as important as ever.  We are already well underway with our planning and ticket sales for our 2010 Talk of the Town Fund Raiser on Oct. 8 with a “Second Chance Saturday” on Oct. 9.

It also means that ticket sales are just as important as ever.  We think we’ve got some good deals for you with our upcoming series and it also means that our Arts 101 programs will be more important to the future of our organizations getting more individuals involved.

But most of all, what all of this means for me and for all of us at A Center for the Arts is … it used to feel like we were always pulling a sack of rocks up a hill.

It doesn’t feel like that anymore. We’ve finally reached a resting place.  In the not too distant future  we hope to fill that sack of rocks with the harvest of our years of hard work in the arts.

Rebecca Petersen is the director of A Center for the Arts in Fergus Falls.

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