Update and Reflection
The Lanesboro Arts Campus initiative is comprised of many different components categorized into 1) arts in public spaces, 2) connecting walkways, and 3) buildings that house the arts. One of the “buildings that house the arts” projects is the renovation of the St. Mane Theatre, which will include the creation of an artist residency center on the second floor of the historic downtown building.
The St. Mane is a Lanesboro landmark, first built as a downtown store and then converted to a movie theater. Now equipped with both a stage and a movie screen, the St. Mane Theatre is a multi-purpose space hosting theatrical productions, music concerts, and films. Additionally, the second level of the St. Mane serves as a makeshift studio for Lanesboro Arts Center’s artist residency program and a classroom space for educational programs. Though the community is making do with the current condition of the historic theatre, it is in need of a renovation to make the space safer, more accessible, and more efficient. Part of our campaign is to renovate this space to create an artist live/work space on the top floor, as well as a flexible studio space for classes, demonstrations, and gatherings.
Recently, a group of community representatives met with Lanesboro Arts Center staff and our project architect to look over plans for the renovation. The diverse group of local business owners, board members, artists, and audience members discussed every detail of the proposed plan, ultimately providing productive feedback for the architect and LAC staff. A revised plan will be presented in a few weeks, and construction is set to begin this winter. This process is making the Lanesboro Arts Campus a truly community-powered initiative and creating invaluable buy-in from local and regional constituents.
The Lanesboro Arts Campus project has received attention from regional media recently, which has helped us to raise awareness of our vision and begin helping other communities who seek revitalization through the arts.
1) An article in the August issue of Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine detailed the conceptualization of the Arts Campus vision from start to finish, providing an interesting reflection on the strategies, partnerships, and programs that have helped shape our vision.
2) The Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul newspaper) recently featured Lanesboro and several other rural arts organizations throughout the state in a story headlining “Minnesota farm country's newest crop: the arts.” The article quoted Chris Beck, a senior projects adviser at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, saying that Minnesota is “arguably the nation’s model in terms of rural philanthropy.”
3) As the Lanesboro Arts Campus initiative enters implementation this fall, we are working hard to finish up our fundraising with local stakeholders. Several sources, such as F&M Community Bank and the Mardag Foundation, have recently invested generous matching funds bringing us much closer to reaching our goal.
Collaboration and community buy-in is a key focus of our project, and an essential part of successful creative placemaking. Decisions are not made by one sole project manager—instead, planning is done through collaborative process involving representatives from many different sectors of the community. This approach not only creates a wide base of knowledge and resources for the project, but it creates a sense of ownership and pride for the people using the arts to shape the fate of this community.