An appreciation of artists “who choose us”

Lake Region Arts

I’m a believer in the power of the arts as an economic development engine.

You can look at the numbers: Studies show that more than $13 million in annual economic activity is generated by the arts in our nine west central Minnesota counties. Yet each of us can look beyond the numbers.

I have attended a brown bag sharing lunch at the Kaddatz Galleries in Fergus Falls a couple times now. The first time I went, three of the nine in attendance had just moved to the community in the last year…for the arts! I met another great artist in the February meeting who just moved to town and is in the process of opening a fabric arts studio.

There was a Wall Street Journal article about the impact of arts in Fergus Falls in late October of last year in the Wall Street Journal, following a similar article in the Minneapolis Tribune. You know what that means? People are taking notice!

The realization of arts as a community development strategy didn’t happen overnight. Some theorize that it may have been jumped-started when Minnesota voters created their legacy fund. That was 10 years ago, folks. A lot had happened since then and in west central Minnesota, a thriving arts community is making an impact.

Please also consider “arts” in the broadest sense. Visual, theatrical, dance, musical, culinary, special events…these and others are forms of art in our region.

Watch our Live Wide Open page for stories of people who have moved to west central Minnesota for the arts and drop me a line if you know of someone with an interesting story to share!


Scott Kiemle