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The Arts Center raises the bar in Jamestown

Arts | January 18th, 2024

By Sabrina Hornung

sabrina@hpr1.com

Located in the heart of downtown Jamestown, North Dakota, The Arts Center is a hub of activity. Whether you spend a summer afternoon enjoying live music and an art market at the Arts Park, or whether you opt to take a pottery class, a Ukrainian Pysanka class, or learn how to assemble a charcuterie board, there’s certainly something for everyone.

Lately The Arts Center has been working on a series of fundraising efforts to expand by securing and renovating the former Wonder Bar, which made its last call in spring 2020 and is located across the alley from The Arts Center. The campaign is cleverly referred to as “Raising the Bar.” The campaign was introduced at last year’s gala, which is The Arts Center’s biggest fundraising event of the year, and in less than a year they had met half of their $2 million dollar goal.

High Plains Reader had the opportunity to to chat with The Arts Center Executive Director Mindi Schmitz about upcoming programming and their latest capital campaign.

High Plains Reader: Can you tell us a bit about “Raising the Bar?”

Mindi Schmitz: Yep. We purchased the bar on August 31. It was a little past our timeline. We wanted to purchase the bar June 1, but there were some hiccups on the end of abstracts and all that kind of stuff. So anyway, we got it all squared away and we took possession August 31.

But it was pretty much too far into the fall to start anything, because we need to put a new roof on the existing structure first. So construction will officially start this spring.

HPR: And with that space, your main focus is classrooms. Is that correct?

MS: Yes, there's going to be two different classrooms. We're actually running out of space for our Arts After School program, which is a good problem to have but we don't want to turn any kids away. So we need more space for after school programs.

We're going to have more additional classrooms in that building to accommodate more students. And also we want to expand that program to serve middle school students. And then one of the rooms over there will be a culinary kitchen.

HPR: When you say that you want to expand the program to serve middle school students, could you elaborate on that a little bit more?

MS: Right now, we only serve third through sixth grade because that's basically what we have the capacity for. And we just know that there's a need and a want and a desire for some art classes for those middle school students, and a lot of times think that they kind of get forgotten along the way. So, we want to create a space for them to be able to create.

HPR: Who teaches the classes? Are they members of the community?

MS: Yes, they're members of the community. Our artist in residence is teaching one, Bill Nybo, who's a member of the community is teaching another. Molly McLain is going to come from Bismarck and teach a class. And then our former artist in residence, Linda Roesch, she's going to teach a class and that's for Arts After School. That's through the middle of March.

HPR: So what else is shaking at the Jamestown Art Center?

MS: Well, we are planning for our annual fundraiser or gala which is March 1 at the Newman Arena. It’s very exciting because in 2024, we're celebrating 60 years of The Arts Center, so the theme is “Peace and Love in the Arts: 60 years of Groovin’.” We're going to have a few twists and turns around the theme of the ‘60s.

We have a new exhibit opening January 11, and then we have another exhibit starting on March 14. Those rotate every five to six weeks. And then with the opening of every exhibit, we have what we call “Perfectly Paired,” where we have a committee that pairs wine or cordials with different finger foods, and people can come and have a perfectly paired experience and listen to the artist, either in person or via zoom for the new exhibit.

HPR: I’ve attended arts events in Jamestown, they’re very well attended, you can tell folks are very supportive of The Arts Center.

MS: Well, I think they are! We're gonna have a really large footprint here pretty soon because we have the park across the street, Hanson Studio across the alley, and we'll have the Wonder Bar. We've made a pretty big impact here in Jamestown.

And in this matter of fact, we just got back a study from the Americans for the Arts. They did a nationwide study that focused on individual communities (and) about how much of an economic impact we've made in Jamestown, and that's pretty exciting, too.

HPR: It is really exciting. And that Arts Park is just phenomenal. It's nice to see something like that in a town the size of Jamestown.

MS: A couple of years ago, huge supporters of ours, Ken and Rosemary McDougal, took it upon themselves to raise the money to put a sprinkler system in the park and sod. They also worked with Pheasants Forever and the Stutsman County Soil Conservation District to plant native grasses and plants in the flowerbeds. So the park looks beautiful in the summer. 

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