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Montevideo American-News - Montevideo, MN
  • Public arts group wants public input on a mural for main street

  • A group of 10 people from Montevideo and the surrounding area came together on Monday night for the first meeting of a group hoping to create a public arts commission, board or committee for the city of Montevideo. The group spent an hour and a half discussing the best way to organize such an arts committee, and identifying possible goals.
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  • A group of 10 people from Montevideo and the surrounding area came together on Monday night for the first meeting of a group hoping to create a public arts commission, board or committee for the city of Montevideo. The group spent an hour and a half discussing the best way to organize such an arts committee, and identifying possible goals.
     
    In the end, they decided the best way to get a start was to jump right in, and create a project. The group is planning to have a mural painted on the outside wall of the Chamber of Commerce, and to seek public input on which proposal to accept from artists.
     
    Identifying the value of public art
     
    The informal meeting was attended by interested members of the public, as well as parties from the city of Montevideo, the Montevideo Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commiss-ion (UMVRDC). Some were in attendance out of interest in the arts, others the community, and others  for a chance to volunteer.
     
    “We have a condensed area with so many artists here,” said Kristi Fernholz with the UMVRDC. She told the group there could be economic and public value to supporting the arts in the community.
     
    Fernholz told the group that she was not an expert on the subject of creating a public arts group, but said that in the past she had worked with Forecast Public Art, a non-profit organization that helps facilitate public art.
     
    She said she could try to connect the group with someone from Forecast Public Art, but in the meantime, she did have some advice she picked up from the group in the past. Some important steps Forecast had identified were to:
    - Inventory public art
    Page 2 of 3 - - Define public arts
    - Define why art matters, and is worthy of the public’s money.
    - Define why art is not just nice, but necessary for the community.
    - Make progress reports regularly to the city council and the public.
     
    “The more interesting and unique things you have in town, the more likely people are to stop when coming through,” said Derrick Schiff, who serves on the board of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau in Montevideo.
     
    Others at the meeting pointed out the need for enriching the Montevideo community with the fine arts for the appreciation and enjoyment of residents, and the potential for using arts to attract more people to town and fill empty buildings on main street. Others in attendance pointed out that with locations such as the Hollywood On Main, and two dance studios in town, there were avenues for the fine arts that could be explored as well, and could benefit young people looking for something valuable to do.
     
    Fernholz told the group that there are arts grants available for public arts projects through the Southwestern Minnesota Opportunity Council (SMOC), which is the official conduit for legacy grant money in the area. “Their basic premise is to help artists make a living,” Fernholz said.
     
    The nuts and bolts
     
    The need for financing brought the board to discuss needing an actual entity that could write grants and accept money, and then use it for public interest.
     
    “You need an entity that can be audited and can accept money. You need to be transparent to build public trust,” said Patrick Moore with Pioneer Public Television.
    Page 3 of 3 -  
    The group discussed a few options for the arts entity. One option would be to work with the city of Montevideo to create a Public Arts Commission that could accept grants. Another option was to create a nonprofit 501c3 to raise money, similar to the Montevideo Music Boosters. A third option would be to create the Public Arts Commission, and also create a “friends of the arts” type organization similer that could raise money, and then donate it to the city for use in public arts projects.
     
    “With the 501c3 you have a little more freedom,” said Montevideo City Manager Steve Jones.
     
    “With a Public Arts Commission, the city council gets the final say. You would also have the city of Montevideo able to act as the financial entity.”
    See Arts page10A
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