Lanesboro Arts Campus

Lanesboro Arts

Funding Received: 2013
Lanesboro, MN
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
October 25, 2013

The Lanesboro Community Theater recently premiered the annual Silent Movies in the Park, which featured the dramatic talents of over 70 community members. Pictured are local Lanesboro women Emily Spende, Stela Burdt, and Kathy Kramer Mosdal, who played Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters; film still by Barbara Keith

As the Minnesota winter draws near, Lanesboro is winding down from a busy summer tourist season. Conversely, the Lanesboro Arts Campus project keeps building momentum—we have begun our community engaged design process and are currently working out the details to start construction on two of our buildings. Big tasks such as organizing community meetings and choosing contractors for the renovation of our historic theatre, and small tasks such as writing e-mail updates to supporters and deciding what type of sandwich to provide for our committee meetings, have all become entwined in an exciting, challenging, eye opening schedule for Lanesboro Arts Center’s staff of four.

As residents start to see the Lanesboro Arts Campus make visible changes in their community, we are doing our best to involve the community in every step of the process. Most people are excited to get involved: we’ve had countless meetings with folks who end up volunteering, supporting the project financially, making valuable suggestions, or connecting us with resources. One challenge we have found—which happens to be an incredible strength of the process—is that some people want to know exactly what these spaces we are transforming will look like. We cannot answer that question because it is a community-driven design, with public workshops and multiple artists involved in the creative conceptualization of the spaces. We are definitely eager for a concrete vision to form for our Poetry Parking Lot or Gateway Sculpture Park, but the process itself is also an art form and an important way of connecting people to art, each other, and their community.

Recent Wins
In the past month, Lanesboro has hosted a number of creative, place-based events:

1) The Lanesboro Community Theatre premiered their annual Silent Film, which featured over 70 community members. The event was held in the city park, where residents, actors, artists, and children gathered to view the film.

2) Taste of the Trail is an annual Lanesboro event that features local foods and restaurants set up along the bike trail, which draws thousands of visitors to town each year. In addition to eating and biking, participants attended a 1860s vintage baseball game complete with historic uniforms and a brass band at the ball park.

3) As part of its mission to serve artists professionally, Lanesboro Arts Center hosted capstone events for two local artists (painter Paul Brokken and writer Nancy Huisenga) who received Individual Artist Grants from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council.

Lanesboro Arts Center serves as the fiscal agent for the Lanesboro Community Theater, which recently premiered its annual Silent Movies in the Park. This project actively involved many community members in its production and appreciation, creating a public value for the arts as it built community. It was directed and produced by talented local artists who are familiar with Lanesboro, know each other on both a personal and artistic level, and are sensitive to the needs of the community. An astounding 10% of Lanesboro’s population participated in the creation of the film, and many more watched as it premiered in the city park. This immediately invests the community in the project and builds audiences for Community Theater events. Furthermore, the film incorporated community landscape assets such as the grain elevator, the livestock sales commission, and the city park into the film. This simple decision to shoot the film in public places where many people could be involved—often those who are underserved by the arts, such as youth and farmers—provides meaningful access to the arts in a setting comfortable to the participants. This type of community program is an excellent example of creative placemaking, and we are hoping that the Lanesboro Arts Campus can inspire even more programming like this.