NEW PROGRAM TO PROVIDE GRANTS TO THREE RURAL MIDWESTERN TOWNS TO CREATE ARTISTIC RESIDENCIES EXPLORING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MIDWESTERNER
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota—Arts Midwest announced today that through generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and with the help of the Indiana Arts Commission, Iowa Arts Council, and South Dakota Arts Council, it has selected three rural Midwestern communities for a new program called We the Many including Perry, IA, Sisseton, SD, and Wabash, IN. Three community partners will each receive a $45,000 grant, a project advisor, training, and additional assistance to create an artistic residency in their town that challenges and expands the idea of what it means to be a Midwesterner.
Arts Midwest Vice President for Strategy and Programs Adam Perry said, “We deeply value the creativity of Midwestern communities. We know the arts are a crucial tool for supporting the vibrancy and creative economy of rural communities. Mellon approached us with an exciting challenge to envision a new artistic program for the region and we couldn’t be more pleased with their support and encouragement, and with the enthusiastic response from the We the Many community partners.”
Mellon Foundation Program Officer Susan Feder observed, “At a time of cultural, economic, and demographic evolution throughout the Midwest and across America, we are pleased to be able to foster new opportunities for artists to work in and with communities. Together, they will develop and present profound insights about the Midwest as viewed through a broad and vibrant range of identities and aesthetics.”
The program will officially kick off next month during the annual Arts Midwest Conference, one of the premier arts booking and professional development events in the country.
We the Many Senior Program Director Christy Dickinson said, “We visited each of the We the Many pilot communities, along with neighboring communities, to meet people, hear their stories, and experience each town’s unique history and character. Next month, the Arts Midwest Conference will be the communities’ first opportunity to all come together to share their stories with one another. They will also have the chance to network with colleagues and artists from across the U.S. and the world as they begin to shape their performing arts residency and identify Midwestern artists for their programs.” Dickinson added, “It’s inspiring to be alongside our partners on this journey as they build upon their community’s assets and work together to face challenges while finding their own sense of purpose for their artist residency.”
The inaugural We the Many community partners are:
Art on the Prairie in Perry, Iowa (Population 7,700)
Art on the Prairie is a nonprofit organization that brings together artists, entrepreneurs, and community members through arts programming. After a population decline in the 1990s, Perry, IA, has experienced a population resurgence due in part to an influx of Latinx residents, who now make up over forty percent of the town’s population.
Sisseton Arts Council in Sisseton, South Dakota (Population 2,500)
Sisseton Art Council’s mission is to build an appreciation and awareness of the arts by recognizing resources and promoting cultural enrichment. The town of Sisseton, SD, is located on the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation, which is home to the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Indian tribe. Today, approximately half of the population of Sisseton is Native American. The small but diverse community has city, county, and tribal governments along with a tribal college.
The Honeywell Foundation in Wabash, Indiana (Population 10,600)
The Honeywell Foundation is an organization dedicated to enhancing the livability of the region through world-class performing arts programming across multiple communities. The area was first home to the Miami Nation of Indians. Today Native American residents and people of color comprise approximately five percent of the population of Wabash County.
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Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six nonprofit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 30 years. For more information, visit artsmidwest.org.