FARGO — Ten years ago this month, Dayna Del Val was just beginning to form her vision for The Arts Partnership. Now, with the organization celebrating its 50th anniversary, she is set to reach a true milestone.

"We have systematically invested in the arts to improve the community," says Del Val, the organization's president and CEO, about the past decade she’s held the position.

Del Val will present TAP's State of the Arts address virtually at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, to reflect on new programs, celebrate successes in the arts and address challenges going forward.

"I am far more interested in looking forward than looking back," Del Val says. "There’s something about the significance of turning 50 that has me wondering what The Arts Partnership will look like at 75 or 100 years old."

To ensure a diverse, well-rounded future, Del Val will be announcing a slate of board member nominees in the address, including Earnest Lamb, Smita Garg, Shelly Aasen Carlson and Dan Leeaphon.

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Changing its name from the Lake Agassiz Arts Council to The Arts Partnership in 2009, the organization has seen growth in various areas over the past decade. This year, TAP granted about $35,000 to individual artists through privately raised funds and a partnership with concert and event promoter Jade Presents. The amount awarded through these grants has seen a fourteenfold increase since 2012.

In the past four months, The Arts Partnership has produced 15 livestream videos shared on Facebook with art experiences, virtual visits and catching up with arts leaders. Special to the Forum
In the past four months, The Arts Partnership has produced 15 livestream videos shared on Facebook with art experiences, virtual visits and catching up with arts leaders. Special to the Forum

City Arts Partnership grants saw a threefold increase as a result of additional investment from the cities of Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead. This year, a total of $97,00 has been granted to nonprofits.

TAP has grown its organizational capacity as well, with an annual budget increase from $170,000 in 2011 to close to $500,000 in 2019.

A subtle yet significant change was updating the organization's mission statement, which used to say "cultivating the arts in the community," to a more active phrase, "cultivating the community through the arts." This focus on community has come in various forms, including new offerings and changes to existing programming.

It certainly has been a year of firsts for TAP, including several new programs.

Art at your fingertips

The "TAPpy Hour" series kicked off in March as a result of COVID-19 cancellations and closures throughout the community. To date, Del Val and her team have streamed over 12 hours of live videos on Facebook with total views approaching 20,000.

A recent video from The Rourke Art Gallery + Museum previewed the 61st Annual "Midwest" exhibition with the theme "In Your Own Skin."

A curated quarantine

Adapting TAP's Community Support Art program to work in a virtual format, the organization worked with event production company Livewire to produce a live concert featuring Sarah Morrau and Rebekka DeVries while viewers at home enjoyed cheese plates from Luna Fargo, dessert from Nichole’s Fine Pastry and a custom work of art from printmaker Eric Johnson.

Pop-up art party

Another immersive experience came in the form of a first for TAP. Last fall's Salon Party at West Acres featured a violin performance from Benjamin Sung and art talk with Emily Williams Wheeler.

Incubating arts

Also at West Acres, the area’s first arts incubator opened next to Best Buy in December 2019. While the space was temporarily closed due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, Aptitude's creative studios will be reopening with limited hours in the coming months.

Music at the airport

In keeping with a list of firsts, TAP launched a series of mini concerts through its ArtWORKS program at the end of 2019 at Fargo's Hector International Airport. The program featured musical performances on cello, violin, flute, saxophone and more.

Increasing visibility

Finally, a new communications coordinator, Ethan Mickelson, joined TAP in 2019 and has continued to contribute weekly articles, including this one, to The Forum.

Recent articles by Mickelson have examined how arts nonprofits are retaining employees and continuing programming during the pandemic, as well as local artists venturing into TikTok and an online video performance series.

"The Arts Partnership has bridged all these different audiences — artists, business and community — all along, so it’s not surprising that we have come up with these new ways of doing work, because that’s really what we do," Del Val says.

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If you go

Free and open to the public, The Arts Partnership's State of the Arts will be presented virtually on Tuesday, June 30. Special to The Forum
Free and open to the public, The Arts Partnership's State of the Arts will be presented virtually on Tuesday, June 30. Special to The Forum


What: The Arts Partnership's virtual State of the Arts presented by Dayna Del Val

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 30

Info: This event will be held virtually via Zoom and also livestreamed on Facebook. Visit facebook.com/theartspartnershipfargo and click on the event page to claim a free ticket.

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net.