The metro is at a pivotal time. There’s so much at stake. So much at stake for the small-business owner and the corporate giant. For our new American neighbors and for our students and recent graduates. For our families, the disabled, retirees and the elderly. So much at stake for the scientists, the technology wizards, the engineers and the mathematicians. For the entrepreneurs and the athletes, the doctors and the day care workers. The owners, investors and builders. So much at stake for everyone.
The arts in the community are at a pivotal time, too. As a more-than-45-year-old organization, The Arts Partnership has seen our fair share of life cycles come and go, but the current cycle is particularly interesting and immediate.
The arts can and do address each of the above-mentioned sectors, but until we tell the story of how and articulate the why, our contributions to the larger community will be mostly undervalued as the real problem-solvers that we can be.
There’s a reason The Arts Partnership awards grants to organizations like Churches United and Charism, and it’s because we believe the arts reach at-risk populations in meaningful ways.
There’s a reason that businesses like Sanford Health, Gate City Bank, TMI Hospitality and others have invested heavily in the arts, and it’s because they see the value for their patients, clients and employees and for the overall health and well-being of the metro. They also understand that the arts are a valuable recruiting tool.
There’s a reason we give general operating support grants to our pillar arts organizations like the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, the F-M Opera, Plains Art Museum and the Fargo Theatre, and it’s because their financial health is vital to the overall success of the arts community and the metro as a whole.
But more needs to be done.
In that light, and with all the risks and opportunities at hand, The Arts Partnership has embarked upon an eight-month tactical planning process to develop concrete steps to help us deepen our investment in the arts.
We have a vision, which, simply put, is to do more of and better what we already do for the arts. That means making a deeper financial investment in organizations and artists making art through the City Arts Partnership, the Corporate Arts Partnership and the Individual Arts Partnership grant programs.
That means communicating even more about all the amazing art being produced in the metro through traditional print and social media, radio and various advertising opportunities.
That means advocating at every level all the ways that the arts matter and all the ways that the arts can be and are a vibrant and active partner with others working to solve the various issues surrounding our community.
It’s easy to have that vision; it’s hard to make it happen.
It takes partnerships that go both ways. It takes investments of dollars and expertise from the business sector to ensure that the arts sector is healthy and able to produce art at the highest levels possible. And it takes arts organizations and artists who are up to the challenges and have the capacity of working with the metro to find solutions to the employee hiring and retention crises, the activation of underutilized spaces in the metro, the physical and mental health issues, the inclusion of new Americans and so much more.
So I am issuing a call to action for my colleagues in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors: Let’s come together and figure out how to solve our community issues using the expertise that we each bring. How can we all work together for the betterment of the entire community? How can we come out of our silos and creatively collaborate on issues that directly and indirectly affect us all? How can each sector do its part to create the vibrant, healthy whole that we can and want to be?
The arts community is ready; who will join us at the table and get to work?
This article is part of a content partnership with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and originally appeared in the Monday, October 31 2016, issue of the paper.