“Keep your foot on the pedal and keep going. Because you better believe communities all around the Midwest have their feet on theirs, and they’ll fly right past you,” encouraged Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport (Iowa) Partnership.
He made the comment earlier this month during the second of our three-part 2019 Arts Partnership Business Breakfast series. He’s right.
We all know people can live where they want to today — science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) employees, doctors, nurses, teachers and more are so desperately needed all over the country that they have their pick of where to live.
It’s on human resources departments, chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus and other groups dedicated to attracting visitors and new citizens to sell their communities as more desirable than the competition and, locally, to make Fargo-Moorhead the place people want to live, work and play.
Continuing the driving metaphor: If the business sector needs to go 80-85 mph to remain competitive, the arts sector needs to move at a zippy 100 mph. And guess what? We’re doing it.
We’re driving confidently, and fast, down the highway, and we’re flying past the competition. Think I’m joking? The arts community in the Metro is doing amazing work, creating astonishing, sophisticated, traditional and contemporary art. And it’s actually paving the competitive highway, making it easier for the business sector and others to keep pace. We pay taxes to ensure that our literal roads are paved.
But what’s being done to ensure that the arts continue to grow? They are, after all, a major aspect of helping promote this community as more interesting, sophisticated and vibrant. Did you hum along at the recent production of “Carmen” by the Fargo-Moorhead Opera? Did you attend Gallery 4’s open house in their new location?
Perhaps you heard the world premiere of Dr. Rene Clausen’s “Before the Whirlwind” last weekend with the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra and multiple community choruses. Have you spent time with the extensive Native American collection and programming at Plains Art Museum?
Did you watch today’s generation of dancers perform Eddie and Kathy Gasper’s most iconic choreography at the Fargo-Moorhead Ballet’s “40 Years of Dance” performance? Were you amazed at the sheer number and quality of playing from the 12- to 18-year-olds in the Fargo Moorhead Area Youth Symphonies’ recent concert?
Those are all events you might have enjoyed just in the past few weeks, and that’s merely the tip of the arts iceberg. Your current and prospective employees want to know about these opportunities because it’s arts and culture that make a community distinct and worth coming to and staying.
And then we have our own 100+ mph announcement to make: After nearly three years at APT, the temporary creative incubator we built with Kilbourne Group in downtown Fargo, we are moving to a permanent home at West Acres.
Aptitude, with its 19 artist studios, kilns and space for additional programming, will be ready for the community to enjoy later this summer. West Acres has always supported the arts but is taking it to a whole new level by creating an opportunity we have only dreamed of. And the entire community will benefit from this collaboration.
The Metro’s arts aren’t just flying down the highway, we’re making it easier for everyone else to drive down it, too. Hold on and enjoy the ride — and feel free to help pay for it, too.
This article is part of a content partnership with the Fargo Forum and originally appeared in print on Monday, April 29, 2019.
Featured photo courtesy of Aaron Simmons at Flint Group.