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Seeking out regional art opportunities

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | October 3rd, 2018

As the FM Studio Crawl fast approacheth area artists are tidying up their studios and inviting the public to experience where their magic happens. It’s a great opportunity where communities intersect and our diverse creative community is celebrated.

As an artist, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s tough to find your creative foothold. In fact it’s tough to even find the gumption to call yourself an artist. Once you hold that title you may encounter folks snickering at the “starving” or “tortured” artist stereotype. Sure, this area may not have the budget or the programming that larger or more urbanized areas may have but there’s a number of opportunities in the area.

If you’re living in Fargo you can look into the Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists (FMVA) and the Arts Partnership, for a membership fee you can become a member and be a part of the FMVA directory and participate in a few annual different group shows with a number of fellow emerging and established artists in the area.You’ll also receive email notifications that include calls for entry in various juried shows throughout the region. You can also apply to be a part of future Studio Crawls!

I highly recommend participating in regional juried shows. Not only is entry another point for the art resume, it’s a great opportunity to participate and support rural arts organizations across Minnesota and North Dakota. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s refreshing once you learn about the magic of Pekin Days in June, Pekin a town in Nelson county with the population of nearly 100 that has been known to attract close to a thousand for the sake of art. You’ll be awed by the art community and restoration progress at the Opera House in Ellendale, and you’d be mighty impressed by the new arts park in Jamestown and to see what kind of exhibits and programming Arts Center has up their sleeves. Be sure to see what’s going on in Bismarck, Minot, and Wahpeton while you’re at it.

There are grant opportunities for organizations and individual artists through both the North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA) and the Arts Partnership (TAP). If you happen to live on the Minnesota side, the Lake Region Arts Council (LRAC) and Springboard for the Arts have opportunities aplenty, ranging from career development workshops to artist residencies.

Full disclosure, I’m on the second week of a two week Hinge Arts Residency in Fergus Falls right now and it’s an amazing opportunity provided by Springboard for the Arts. It isn’t just limited to visual artists. Individuals in the literary, music, dance and theatre arts have all participated. Artists are provided with housing and studio space as they create and explore the community. The application was easy to navigate and the staff and community are more than accommodating.

It’s a common misconception to say artists are lazy. We may be unconventional and maybe a little “different” as we tend to say in the Midwest but we put a lot of blood sweat and tears into our work. While speaking with a friend from LRAC, she made mention that she attributed the main reason that artists didn’t look into these aforementioned opportunities was intimidation.

It’s intimidating to reach out to these organizations. It’s intimidating to write a grant. It’s intimidating to assemble an exhibition resume, project proposal, artist statement, bio, and properly size and document examples of your work when you don’t know what you’re doing. Thankfully there are resources where artists can learn these skills. Not everyone fully grasps a natural sense of business and marketing.

There are hidden pockets of culture everywhere you look--it’s just a matter of finding them. Fargo isn’t the be all end all of art in our region. Do some research and mingle with the artists of greater Dakota. It helps you gain a bit of perspective on the state of the arts in our area and you’ll meet some radical dudes along the way. Plus with more creative people mingling maybe we can convince some of our art, theatre, and music majors to stay in North Dakota and keep the creative ball rolling.

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