After arts and theater organization Artistry uncovered financial trouble this fall, Bloomington's City Council has thrown the group a $250,000 lifeline.

Artistry interim director Kelli Foster Warder said Artistry has cut its staff of 15 to four, and trimmed its budget from $2.3 million to $1.5 million. The organization expects to stage shows with smaller casts and lower expenses.

Artistry has paid all the artists it has worked with and has negotiated with other creditors, Foster Warder said, though the organization still has about $300,000 in liabilities. Artistry also aims to improve its financial outlook with staff and consultants focused on fundraising and new board members with management experience.

The council on Jan. 9 approved a $250,000 grant for Artistry from the city's strategic priorities fund, cancelling another annual $50,000 grant the organization had been receiving. By accepting the grant, Artistry will keep its commitment to stage a set number of shows and visual art exhibitions at the Bloomington Center for the Arts each year.

"Go do good," Mayor Tim Busse said after the motion was approved.

Josie Albertson-Grove


New dog park, bridge eyed for Bassett Creek Park

Crystal will try for a second time to get bids to build a new dog park at Bassett Creek Park, as well as to replace a 40-year-old bridge that is not plowed during the winter because it can't support the weight of maintenance equipment.

The city put both projects out for bid last year, but the resulting bids came in too high.

Bassett Creek Park, at 5609 32nd Avenue N., has a small dog park now. The new dog park would have separate areas for small and large dogs, with a trail connecting them.

The City Council at its Jan. 3 meeting passed a resolution to receive bids for both projects starting Jan. 31, with the goal of starting construction in April.

In a separate move, the council is also seeking bids to redo the south parking lot at the city's community center adjacent to Grogan Park. The project would improve sidewalk connections between the community center and baseball fields and add a second exit lane to Douglas Drive.

Tim Harlow

Washington County

County partners with Stillwater police on mental health

The Washington County Board has approved a $122,058 contract to embed a social worker with the Stillwater Police Department.

The 18-month contract will allow law enforcement to make a referral to the social worker when they encounter someone struggling with mental health, substance abuse or other problems. The social worker will offer support and assessment while connecting the person to community services that best meet their needs, according to the county.

The new partnership aims to provide timely social services for people struggling with mental health or substance abuse, while reducing the involvement of the criminal justice system.

Matt McKinney