I meet monthly with a number of local arts leaders for coffee and conversation. It's a casual affair, and topics range from sharing recent successes to frustrations with aspects of our jobs to challenges in reaching audiences and more.
I am struck each month at how dedicated, smart and artistic the leaders of our arts institutions are, and I am grateful to call them colleagues and friends. But this month, the conversation particularly struck me because we were talking about the explosive growth in programming.
For example, the Fargo Moorhead Area Youth Symphonies has added a third orchestra ensemble. There are more than 200 area students giving nearly every Sunday afternoon of the school year to rehearsing and performing a number of concerts each year.
Plains Art Museum is continuously adding programming in the Katherine Kilbourne Center for Creativity to reach and engage the community, students, adults and special groups like families who have experienced the horrific loss of a member to addiction.
The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra has added the "Symphony After Dark" series to engage audiences who might not attend a traditional Masterworks concert. Last year's Music of the Middle East concert had an audience filled with members of our community, our neighbors and colleagues whose original homes or people are from far off places we only know about from the news and rarely the beautiful, good parts.
Theatre B recently received a grant from the North Dakota Humanities Council to create a play based on a book by local poet Carol Kapaun Ratchenski to be performed around the state.
These are just four examples of the kind of incredible and responsive growing the arts are doing. And each of these institutions, and the others, are doing something that can be a special challenge in the nonprofit sector: They are not only thinking big, but acting on it.
As we talked, of course the question of funding came up. Each of us agree we need more funding to do all of the current, and growing, programming to continue to serve the community - a community that is expanding and evolving every day.
Someone recently asked me to consider what was "enough." Enough funding. Enough engagement. Enough support of all kinds. I don't have a clear answer yet, but I'm working on one.
What I do know is that while the arts and cultural institutions in this community are nowhere near having enough funding, engagement and support, they are doing remarkable work in spite of those challenges.
From my vantage point, we are a community of tremendous bounty, some of which gets shared with the arts sector. I hope, and frankly need, for more to come our way.
But as a sector, we are bursting with artistry, with passion and with a firm dedication to our missions to provide arts access to the community.
The arts sector is thinking and acting big, and we invite you to join us as funders, as audience members, as makers and more. Take advantage of and support the arts bounty in the metro. Imagine where we will go together.
Dayna Del Val, president and CEO of The Arts Partnership, writes a monthly column for Life. For more information on the arts, go to theartspartnership.net.