“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
This week I have been struck by beginnings. I visited two amazing art centers, Edina Art Center and Bloomington Theatre and Art Center. I had little expectations for either place, having never visited them before. I was met with gracious kindness at the Edina Art Center by their General Manager, Michael Frey. He took me on a tour of the space where I learned about the history and its current programs. The facilities are funky, beautiful, and charming. Their class list is impressive and they allow artists of multiple disciplines to teach their skills to interested people at all levels of experience. The next day, my jaw dropped as I pulled up to the Bloomington Theatre and Art Center. Their grounds are gorgeous and the relationship between the elegant art center and the City of Bloomington’s offices is truly seamless. Both are innovative models of ways suburban cities are supporting the arts, finding ways to program and fund facilities that employ and support artists and arts advocates. For example, Edina’s Art Center is funded by the income that their memberships and classes bring in and by revenue from Edina’s municipal liquor stores. It is officially part of the Parks and Rec Department and is not a non-profit. This means that as a Director, Michael does not need to spend a lot of time fundraising and finding the right grant to fund the right program at the right time. He can be adaptable and responsive. He can let the Center evolve with the desires of its members. And he sits at a lot of meetings where people are talking about basketball courts and baseball fields. I love the “make-it-work” combination of sports, liquor and art. Clearly, it works.
These centers foster the integration of creativity into people’s lives. What struck me most about both of them beyond their impressive facilities is the fact that they started about thirty years ago by a group of folks, getting together and advocating for the importance of the arts in the places they lived. They have humble beginnings.
Last night, we had our final Enriching the Field Conversation. I wanted to offer the wonderful group of thoughtful, committed citizens that were coming to these meetings a sense of how arts funding works in Minnesota. I want people to know how they could fund their artistic work. Right now, Richfield does not have a year-round art center but it does have people who want a place to learn, experiment, build community, show their work, and deepen their skill sets. I learned this week that where there is a will, there is a way. Perhaps thirty years from now, Richfield residents will gather in an impressive facility that is buzzing with creativity and learn about the history of the place which started with a small, motivated group of people who believed their city needed a center for creativity. Perhaps they won’t have to wait for thirty years because that place will be Lyndale Gardens, a place that can expand people’s access to the arts and be Richfield’s second “Hub” of arts and culture.
A short list of resources for artists:
Add your thoughts to this ongoing conversation and reach out to Artist Organizer Molly Van Avery, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are excited about Richfield’s Art scene.