Rosemount Area Arts Council
Just south of St. Paul, in Dakota County, Rosemount is a community with a small town feel and a giant front porch. The Front Porch is a partnership between the Rosemount City Council, Rosemount Business Council, and this year's MRAC Arts Achievement Award winner, the Rosemount Area Arts Council (RAAC). Inside a renovated church, known as the Steeple Center, RAAC volunteers welcome residents and visitors alike into a combination arts center, visitor's bureau, and information center. The RAAC program utilizes the City's space to engage the community in art exhibits, art classes, and as a community art space where people can stop by for a free cup of coffee, cookie, or to use the Center's Wi-Fi and find out more about the local businesses.
Rosemount's Front Porch is just one example of how RAAC works to integrate art into the social fabric of their community. Founded in 2007, RAAC held their first event, the Shamrock Short Film Festival, in 2008. Since then they have partnered with community organizations to provide monthly meet the author events, holiday and open air concerts, an annual bluegrass festival and bluegrass family nights, ukulele lessons for 50 students with a culminating concert, watercolor classes, and a community public art project: One Tile One Rosemount, in which 9200 one inch tiles will be in some way individualized by an area resident, worker, or student to create a mosaic for the Robert Trail Library lobby.
Rosemount City Council members have described RAAC as putting "community back in the community" and putting the "WOW factor into what's happening in Rosemount." With RAAC membership growing and members volunteering on average more than 400 hours each month, it's easy to see that RAAC is achieving its mission of building and strengthening their community through the arts.
Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association
The Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA) hasn't just incorporated the arts into their community; they have helped transform a formerly blighted industrial area into a vibrant arts district, designated as such by the City of Minneapolis in 2003 and written about in the travel section of the New York Times.
NEMAA began in 1995 as a collective of Northeast Minneapolis area artists who wanted to showcase their work and establish a presence in their community. They created a studio tour called Art-A-Whirl with 14 locations and 30 participating artists. The first studio tour brought only a few hundred visitors into the area, but its popularity grew quickly. In 2013, less than 20 years later, Art-A-Whirl included more than 500 participating artists at more than 70 locations and brought more than 30,000 people into Northeast Minneapolis for the largest weekend-long studio tour in the country. Art-A-Whirl not only supports the economic growth of area artists and local businesses, it fosters connections between artists and patrons, and invites participants to engage in a plethora of free educational arts activities, demonstrations, and performances. NEMAA also provides free trolley car rides during the event to make it more accessible and easier to navigate.
More than a studio tour, NEMAA is an arts service organization dedicated to making sure artists and the community of Northeast Minneapolis thrive. In 2002, NEMAA partnered with the City of Minneapolis and others to create an Arts Action Plan to help the City make and maintain a commitment to the arts. More recently, NEMAA provided information and resources for the Minneapolis Cultural Vitality Index, a tool that measures the economic health of highly creative industries. NEMAA also publishes an annual Artist Directory and Guide to studios, galleries, and businesses throughout Northeast Minneapolis. 30,000 copies of the Directory are distributed throughout the metro area. NEMAA continues to broaden its reach by coordinating a Fall Fine Arts show, promoting its members year-round, developing a website that features member events and a directory of work by its artist members, and serving as a collective voice for artists at both the political and community levels.