Lots of suburbs and small towns in the south metro are either dreaming of, struggling to maintain, or proudly installing centers for the arts. Often a huge issue is whether City Hall is willing to put some skin in the game, or just expects arts advocates to manage on their own. Here's a look at where some proposals stand:
• Savage expects to put a plan before members of the City Council next month.
"We've checked out Bloomington and others across the river" with major installations of one kind or another and "all of them have city grants," said Jo Storey, director of Savage Art Studios. The private firm has worked with the city in the past but has struggled in a down economy and is seeking a boost. "That's what it takes to stabilize things. I really think our community can do this."
Savage Mayor Janet Williams cited Lakeville's 10-year-old Arts Center and said "our city has to decide whether to support something like that."
• Shakopee is eyeing an empty fire station as a possible arts center and has a deadline at the end of July for proposals.
"Our main goal now is to bring in a lot of different entities and use it as a place for everyone," said Mayor Brad Tabke.
"Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, seniors, anyone could use the same building and administration to get it done and fulfill major needs that we have in Shakopee. I very much hope this idea get legs and that it ends up making sense.
"They haven't come back with a business proposal yet so I don't know, but I really hope it does work out."
• Rosemount is negotiating with the Rosemount Area Arts Council to provide a gallery space, Rosemount's Front Porch, in the city-owned Steeple Center, said the Arts Council's vice chairwoman, Jeanne Schwartz. In return for free space, council volunteers would staff a city welcome and tourist counter in the center, the former St. Joseph's Catholic Church, she said.
The 4-year-old Arts Council put on 25 events last year, most of them free, Schwartz said. The council's major annual event, the Bluegrass Festival, attracted 2,500 folks over three days last August. At Christmas, tickets sold out for two variety shows, each seating 200 people.
The Arts Council, which gets no city funding, has won six Minnesota State Arts Board grants in three years to help pay for performing artists. The 25-member group has a "Rosemount-First" policy that meant buying about $18,000 worth of goods and services last year from Rosemount businesses, even though that sometimes costs more, Schwartz said.
"We think it [the arts] is essential to having a vibrant community," Schwartz said. "We are community builders as much as we are art lovers and artists."
JIM ADAMS AND DAVID PETERSON