I'm declaring 2018 the Year of the Arts in the Metro. This year was huge for The Arts Partnership - it set the stage for others to understand fully how the arts serve the community at large.

We completed work with our tactical planning consultant Jim Clark from Kentucky. Business, government, education and arts leaders met with Jim, and our staff and board walked away with a number of significant initiatives, including articulating our core values:

  • Support local art and the artists who make it
  • Advocate the arts' role in a vibrant economy
  • Promote a creatively enriched community

We had been doing those things, but writing them down helped us clarify our role in the community.

Support local art and the artists who make it

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The City of Fargo provided additional funds for the City Arts Partnership grants; along with funds from Moorhead and West Fargo, we awarded more than $112,000 to more than 30 nonprofits making art, the largest amount we have ever granted.

We continued to manage much of Sanford's arts funding through the Sanford Arts Partnership merit-based award program, and we increased dollars for grants to individual artists.

Advocate the arts' role in a vibrant economy

We traveled to Des Moines, Iowa; St. Paul; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and Sheboygan, Lake Geneva and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to meet their arts and business leaders and learn how the arts have positively transformed their communities.

I was energized by attending the CEOs for Cities conference in Phoenix, taking away the notion that we can accomplish our goals using our local assets if we simply work together.

At the Presidio Institute's Cross Sector Leadership Boot Camp in San Francisco, I learned how to put ideas into action and work across the many sectors that make up a community.

We received the North Dakota Governor's Award for the Arts in recognition of how we are cultivating the arts in the community.

The results of the two-year Arts and Economic Study we conducted with Americans for the Arts were so impressive that the FMWF Chamber of Commerce invited me to present at the December Eggs and Issues breakfast.

Promote a creatively enriched community

We hosted a number of Holiday Art Market events at APT, the creative incubator we manage. More than 1,000 people have been engaged in the arts-immersed experience.

And the Market provided a fabulous opportunity for artists to sell their art and prove that they are micro-businesses in their own rights.

The two community-wide events we produce annually, ChalkFest and The State of the Arts, continue to draw engaged, diverse audiences.

I hope your 2017 was arts-filled and that you are already looking forward to all the ways you can get involved, both personally and through your business, with the arts. Our entire community will be and do better when you support local art.

Here's to 2018 and the Year of the Arts in the Metro!

Dayna Del Val, president and CEO of The Arts Partnership, writes a monthly column for Variety. For more information on the arts, go to theartspartnership.net.