Jack Becker of Forecast Public Art, John Davis of Lanesboro Arts Center, and Gabrielle Grinde of Hoisington Koegler Group review city maps in Lanesboro during a kick-off meeting and walking tour for the Lanesboro Arts Campus project
The word “meeting” has inherited a negative reputation—we picture stale conference rooms, long agendas, and a table full of dozing participants. The Lanesboro Arts Campus project is a complex initiative that continues to require intensive planning, so we have a lot of—you guessed it—meetings. But luckily for us and our community, these meetings are continually building momentum for the project and doing a great job of inspiring, encouraging, and educating our partners.
We recently held a Lanesboro Arts Campus kick-off meeting with our project partners, artists, and community members. Through a walking tour of our town and a discussion about its imminent transformation into an arts center, the meeting began the exciting process of community-engaged design. Artists Ed Bok Lee and Karl Unnasch were able to see their canvas—which is the town of Lanesboro itself—while engaging with Lanesboro Arts Center staff, a community planning and landscape design team from Hoisington Koegler Group, and Jack Becker of Forecast Public Art. A plan was developed for more intensive community engagement meetings in the upcoming months, including a workshop with local elementary school children and community vision workshops.
Recently the creative, community-minded spirit of the Lanesboro Arts Campus project has manifested itself in a number of local initiatives:
1) Lanesboro Community Theater recently wrapped up filming a silent movie featuring a cast of over 70 local people (that’s 10% of Lanesboro’s population!). This film is an annual community project that will culminate with a movie premiere shown in the city park this fall.
2) A new art gallery called Old Bank Art Gallery recently opened in Whalen, MN, which is minutes from Lanesboro via bike trail. Housed in the historic bank building, the gallery features the talents of several siblings who work in a wide range of media.
3) Lanesboro Arts Center’s Artist Residency Program recently selected artists for 2014. The artist residents, who are chosen by a panel of local artists and arts professionals, come to Lanesboro to create work while engaging the community in public programs.
Throughout our meetings and planning sessions this month, project partners were able to witness firsthand the energy and pride surrounding the Lanesboro Arts Campus vision. Our kick-off meeting served as a platform for open discussions where community members were able to ask and answer big questions like “What do we want our town to look like in 10 years?” and “What can we do to make our community sustainable for future generations?” Putting city leaders, local government, regional artists, community planners, and arts administrators together in a room fostered a meaningful and rich discussion about the varied needs of our community—and this type of collaboration is the backbone of successful placemaking. This also enables our community to build from within, which is an important part of sustaining small towns without damaging their history, culture, and integrity.