Riverwalk Arts Quarter Launched

riverwalk arts quarterA group of arts entrepreneurs, supporting organizations and businesses surrounding the downtown riverwalk from 2nd Street to Bridge Square has been awarded a major grant by the McKnight-funded Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF).

The grant was awarded to the founding members of the Riverwalk Arts Quarter and will be used to build a community-wide coalition to engage in what SMIF terms 'asset-based economic development' concentrating on the existing assets here in the north end of the downtown including the arts resources and underutilized riverwalk. The organizing members represent an unusual concentration of investments in a dozen facilities plus equipment and staff dedicated partially or fully to serving the visual artist and its patrons. 

The Riverwalk Arts Quarter is seen as a significant component of the 'Arts Town' envisioned by ArtsPlan '06.  In support of the Riverwalk Arts Quarter concept, The NDDC said "...the concept of increasing the economic leverage from the community's arts and culture assets through pulling together the stakeholders in a defined district is a practical approach that should result in visible accomplishments".

The City of Northfield Economic Development Authority stated "Centrally located, the Quarter will reach out to the colleges, local artists, studios and the surrounding scenic lands to build a thriving arts community. The EDA's economic  plan identifies the combined values of the downtown, the colleges and the local arts entrepreneurs as one of the most significant assets upon which we base our future. The EDA is eager to show our support for this plan"

The Northfield Riverwalk Arts Quarter grant application stated "Arts promotion in Northfield primarily works toward sustaining some visual art, amateur theater, community bands, orchestras and choirs, art classes for all ages, dance, literary arts, and other cultural events. Typically supported by nonprofit arts organizations, most notably the Northfield Art Guild, the majority of these artists work without compensation for quality of life reasons.

The visual artists in our community, however, need a more solidly organized and effective retail market for their creative output. Unlike the performing arts, their artistic endeavors - paintings, drawings and other media - produce products whose only income potential is a one-time sale. But success in the market yields great rewards: self-employment, staff and apprenticeship opportunities, a viable market for consumable supplies, work for supporting craftspeople (framing, printing, publishing), art gallery proprietors and staff, rents for studio space, art instructors, art marketers and consultants, etc. Art export creates healthy communities "

Through a focused effort we will create a vital arts destination in Northfield based on regional marketing, local wayfinding, and fun, educational arts and music events on the riverwalk.  We will attract the active local arts patrons who currently support the local artists as well as inviting those in the community who aren't regularly participating and, most importantly, those metro and regional people who we need to reach to realize the economic potential of all our arts, eats, entertainment and retail assets on the riverwalk, in the downtown and throughout the community.

Stop by ArtOnWater Gallery to learn more about being a part of the team, supporting us in cash or in kind or simply wishing us well.

Contact: Northfield Riverwalk Arts Quarter c/o Dean Kjerland, ArtOnWater Gallery, 217 S. Water Street, Northfield, MN  55057 or dean@artonwater.com.

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