Fergus Falls has a wonderful arts community [UPDATED]Published 6:00am Sunday, October 3, 2010 Updated 11:58am Thursday, September 30, 2010
Pretty soon I’m going to be able to retire and just sit back and reap the benefits of all the hard work and progress we have made to make this community and region a hub of arts activity.
This past week in my own community I was able to attend a Poetry Slam, a Viennese Strauss Orchestra, a professional violinist who studied with Midori, three art galleries – wait, make that four – while having conversations with several local artists, poets, authors, actors, directors and musicians. What a wonderful job and life I have!
So, I figure it’s a job worth sharing with others with the hopes that when I DO retire there will be 1) a full staff to carry out the work, 2) a plethora of partnerships that keep the arts strong in this community and region, 3) a strong board of directors , 4) a diverse audience base to support all of this activity. We’re doing really well on 1, 2, & 3! Item #4 could still use some work. We don’t see enough students. We don’t see enough young adults raising families. We don’t see enough people from out of town. Slowly but surely this will evolved. We know this because 1, 2, & 3 did not hapen overnight!
Last week was a perfect example of how we continue to strengthen our work and expand our activities to include more diverse audiences. Our mission: Building Connections Between Artists and Audiences has expanded to include “Bringing the best possible arts experiences to the community and region that inspire creativity, curiosity, imagination & learning.” We really dug deep into this agenda when teaching artists, Esther Ouray & Julie Bouda visited the community for the week.
They helped us to grow our partnership relationships with visits to The Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, The Kaddatz Hotel, Village Cooperative, Mill Street Residence, Girl Scouts, Adams & Cleveland & McKinley Elementary Schools, The Otter Tail County Historical Society, The Fergus Falls Public Library and Viking Library Systems. Esther & Julie have been visiting Fergus Falls for several years through our Summer Arts Academy. Now we’re going broader and deeper into the community to develop a Story Telling Festival in late June of 2011 and a community Pageant about Place and our Purpose in our Place in August when we collaborate with the Prairie Wetlands on their “Return to the Prairie Days.”
And they will be back! With story telling, mask making, puppetry, toy theaters, community pageants and work in music, theater, visual arts and dance we will be doing a lot of work with these artists that truly inspires creativity, curiosity, imagination & learning! We will also be spending more time being more deliberate about building a more diverse audience base while increasing participation in the arts. I can speak for myself, and we know it’s true of many actors and musicians and artists – it’s as much fun to be creating the work as it is to be watching the creative process!
We continue to build a strong board and last weekend’s board retreat at Glendalough State Park was one example of our commitment to that. The Board is working on activating their long range strategic plan. In our offices we are building a strong staff that consists of 2 full time and 5 part time employees. We are also trying to figure out how we add more staff in the arena of technical assistance/building upgrade & maintenance.
Our programming is strong, as evidenced by our FOUR Series that just rolled out the door this week; Folk, Chamber, Theater & Dance. Check them all out on our website: www.fergusarts.org and consider buying one or all four series. You save at least 50% on tickets when you do this. One couple who volunteers and attends programs regularlly was just about to buy two of the series when someone walked in and used their Year Long Pass which, for $500, gives them 2 tickets to every Center Sponsored Program (aside from fund raisers and rentals) for an entire year.
On that parting note…our Annual Talk of the Town Fund Raiser is just around the corner (Friday, October 8). For our last year at the Big Wood Event Center we are focusing on Theater – dinner theater and theater past and yet to come! We will continue to partner with the Bigwood Event Center on future dinner theater projects. Also…check out Second Chance Saturday – Music & Art Sale includes wine & appetizers for $20 at Cafe 116 & The Spot on Saturday, October 9 from 5 – 7 p.m.Tags: A Center for the Arts, rebecca-petersen