Meandering In Minnesota

A reader from Oklahoma recently wrote me thanking me for providing information arts organizations in rural settings can use. With that in mind, I wanted to highlight a “if Minnesota can do it…” post on Dakotafire, a site that hopes to emulate and replicate that MN’s successes in the Dakotas

I loved the idea promoted by John Davis, Executive Director of the Lanesboro Arts Center, had for making the entirety of Lanesboro, MN an arts campus (video) rather than just focus on building an arts center. (I also love Lanesboro’s claim to be the B&B capital of Minnesota)

The fact that the town of New York Mills, MN, population 1200, decided to sponsor a Great American Think Off is inspiring to me. It suggests that there are still plenty of interesting ideas that aren’t being explored and risks that aren’t being taken.

I was amused by the concept that rural communities don’t have arts/gallery walks like cities do, they have Arts Meanders that include artist studios spanning counties.

Note that none of these links appear in the Dakotafire post. The ideas were so intriguing, I was inspired to seek out the websites for each.

True, these are all existing ideas writ small, or perhaps it is writ large since they take the idea of an arts district and apply it to whole towns and counties.

For me it belies the thinking that there aren’t enough of some type of resource in a place to accomplish anything successfully. The effort invested in some of these projects has been spent over 20 years or so, but the devotion to pursuing the idea has been there.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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