Austin ArtWorks Festival featured in Ten Year Arts Legacy Exhibition

Published 7:39 am Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Artwork representing the Austin ArtWorks Festival will be featured in a Minnesota State Arts Board exhibition, showcasing artwork supported by the state’s arts and cultural heritage fund.

“A Creative Investment: Celebrating 10 Years of Legacy Art and Impact,” opens on April 26 at the Minnesota State Arts Board in St. Paul, and will be on display through the fall. The exhibit highlights art engagement throughout the state and features work by all ages, from kindergartners to adults, with a range of all abilities. The exhibit’s theme focuses on all Minnesotans being creative and benefiting from the arts.

In 2008, Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment to the state’s constitution.  For a period of twenty-five years, the amendment will dedicate a pool of funds for clean water, parks and trails, outdoor habitat, and arts and cultural heritage. The Arts Board and the state’s regional arts councils receive appropriations from the arts and cultural heritage fund. 

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In the first 10 years, the Arts Board and regional arts councils have awarded 13,894 legacy supported grants. From 2010 to 2018, the Minnesota State Arts Board supported 526 festivals and touring initiatives.

“Since the passage of the Legacy amendment, more Minnesotans have access to and are able to participate in the arts, and the funding has put the arts to work in new ways to help achieve important public goals,” said Sue Gens, executive director of the Minnesota State Arts Board in a press release. “Collaborative arts projects are bringing neighbors together, traditional artists are helping to foster cultural understanding, arts activities are promoting health and well-being for older adults, young people are developing their talents and skills through community arts education, and artists and arts organizations are being recognized as important tools in economic and community development.”

The Minnesota State Arts Board is a state agency that stimulates and encourages the creation, performance, and appreciation of the arts statewide. It also serves as a fiscal agent for a network of 11 regional arts councils. Together, the board and regional arts council system serves all 87 counties, distributing arts funding to individuals and organizations through competitive grant programs and providing services around the state.

Greater Minnesota will be represented at the exhibit with the feature on the Austin ArtWorks Festival as one of the examples that have benefitted from the Legacy grant funding. The festival reached an all-time high of 67 exhibiting artists last year. Festivals like the annual festival in Austin supports local and regional artists, strengthens community pride and relationships while stimulating economic growth.

“The Austin ArtWorks Festival is a great example of that,” said Laura Helle, executive director of Austin Area Arts. “It really does bring all sorts of art to the people of Minnesota. It’s really important that outstate Minnesota is represented at these things. Sometimes there’s an overrepresentation of the metro arts, and the outstate arts is strong. It’s great that Austin can be a part of that total picture.”

Some artwork that’s being featured in Friday’s show included the work of Michael Sweere, who was the featured artist in the 2018 Austin ArtWorks Festival. He is an Owatonna native and currently resides in Minneapolis. The recycled cardboard mosaic Sweere created with interactive components from Austin ArtWorks Festival guests will be one of the pieces showcased in the exhibit.

“It’s a nice way to illustrate how the festival works,” Helle explained. “It shows how the funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board supports great art experiences for all Minnesotans.”

This Friday, Helle will be heading to St. Paul to meet with fellow artists and see the Austin ArtWorks Festival represented in the Twin Cities.

“The grant funding was significant to our budget and was one of the reasons that helped us grow. It really helped us take things to the next level,” she said. “I’m excited to meet some of the other artists and talk about Austin.”