Here’s just a sample of what went on these past 12 months. Watch out, 2016 — we’re coming for you.
• Beethoven Fest, a community-wide monthlong series of arts events, premiered and paved the way for the upcoming Shakespeare fest, coming in February.
• The cities of Fargo and Moorhead each created a City Art and Culture Commission.
• Theatre B received one of only 16 $100,000 grants through the Bush Foundation’s Community Creative Cohort program.
• Musician Jack White ended his pop-up acoustic concert tour in Fargo.
• Unglued Craft Fest held its fifth annual festival, which drew thousands of people at Plains Art Museum.
• The FM Choral Artists, formerly the FM Chamber Choral, turned 35.
• Jeff Knight and Su Legatt launched the Art-O-Mat at West Acres.
• Our beloved Bison Sunny was vandalized and beautifully restored (in part with funds sent by many supporters) to its rightful place on the corner of Main and Broadway.
• MSUM brought in jazz “edutainment” player and teacher Denis DeBlasio.
• The Rourke celebrated its 56th annual Midwestern exhibition.
• The Arts Partnership handed out the first Erin Koffler memorial grant to artist Warren W. Kessler.
• Gallery 4 turned 40 and is the longest continuous running artist cooperative gallery in the nation.
• Director Michael Walling celebrated 25 years with Trollwood Performing Arts School with the area’s premiere of “Mary Poppins.”
• 17-year-old Ryan Hardy, the youngest member of the Red River chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society, took second place in the Young Organists Competition at the American Theatre Organ Society Convention in Philadelphia.
• Theatre B devised “The Oil Project” in collaboration with Plains Art Museum’s “Bakken Boom!” exhibition.
• The community and beyond got excited about the Fargo city flag competition. Microsoft employee Taylor Homoky won the first-round People’s Choice award. Look for more follow-up in the new year.
• ChalkFest attracted over 3,000 people, even with a 70 to 90 percent chance of rain all day, at the Red River Zoo.
• Artists were on film: Red River Dance participated in a flash mob with the band Uhro; Jeff Knight and Jon Offutt were featured in the film “Life and Times”; and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau showcased various members of the FM Symphony playing on rooftops in downtown Fargo in a promotional video.
• Moorhead artist Mara Morken Fogarty created the art installation “Sticksgarden” with a variety of artists on Main Avenue in Moorhead.
• Street art took off in a big way, including a legal art wall behind The Forum building, murals in the Roberts Street alley and Norwegian rosemaling on a dumpster at the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
• Sanford put out a massive call for art for the new Sanford Health campus in Fargo.
• The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators-Dakotas Conference was held in Fargo and included keynote speaker (and North Dakota native) Barbara McClintock, a five-time New York Times Best Children’s Book award winner.
• Grammy-winning American composer, conductor and speaker Eric Whitacre conducted the NDSU Choral Ensemble.
• Gasper’s School of Dance and the FM Ballet presented “Legacy — the Eddie Gasper Dance Tribute,” where they re-created some of Eddie’s most famous dances and left the audience breathless when Matthew Gasper danced with his father’s image on a massive screen.
• Laura Youngbird took on the position of program director for outreach projects with Native American artists at Plains Art Museum.
• Kody C. Jones accepted the position of artistic and education director at Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre.
• MeLissa Kossick became the communications coordinator at The Arts Partnership.
• Shirley Leiphon was named Fargo-Moorhead Opera’s new relationship director.
• Jacque (Holland) Stamatopoulos joined The Uptown Gallery as a partner owner.
• Andrew Maus accepted the position of director at Plains Art Museum and will begin in the new year.
These are just a few of the incredible successes that occurred this year in the arts. These successes are not just important for the arts community, however. They are important for the entire community as we continue to work to attract and retain business and employees. These are the kinds of artistic achievements and programming that people coming from larger communities to ours want to know about as they are deciding where to land.
The arts are already appearing like a bright beacon on the horizon of the new year — get out and enjoy all that they have to offer.
This article is part of a content partnership with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and originally appeared in the Monday, December 21, 2015, issue of the paper.