Earlier this week we met up as a staff under the Fargo Theatre marquee to mark a special milestone – our 50th anniversary of supporting local art.
We gathered together and for brief moment as the sidewalk cleared of passerby, we took a deep breath, pulled our masks down and waited 10 seconds for the camera to go off.
While we are focused on the next fifty years, it was a memory to look back on.
As a staff, we have no shortage of art memories, from Dayna’s experiences as an actor and formative mothering moments with her son, to Danica’s memories abroad, or that year Christina modeled bra art for Bras on Broadway, we have a lot of moments to share!
Here’s why we donate to support local art, music, film, dance, theatre and beyond:
I have virtually no memory of a time before I was giving in one form or another.
When I was really young, our Sunday School gave out little envelopes for weekly donations. I dutifully put my nickels, dimes and sometimes quarters in there. As a young adult, I was a dedicated tither to my church because I felt like I had been so often blessed in ways I wasn’t sure I always deserved, and I wanted to model consistent giving for my son. We also served at Churches United for the Homeless and found other ways to take care of others who were in worse shape than we were. I have always been particularly drawn to the Bible parable of the Widow and her two mites. Years ago, I was a founding member of the nonprofit Wellspring for the World.
One of the greatest moments of my parenting life was when my son outgrew one of his early bicycles. We were talking about what to do with it, and he said, “What about giving it to a younger boy from church [who was also being raised in an apartment by a single mom], I bet he would love it.” I called the boy’s mom, and she was so delighted to say yes. We arranged a time to drop the bike off. Quinn got out of the car and unpacked the bike from our trunk as the boy came running up to it. His enthusiasm was palpable. We got back in the car, and Quinn got tears in his eyes—that was the first time I saw him understand the power of giving, and I knew that he would never forget it.
Today, my husband and I have interesting conversations about giving. Because I am the Chief Development Officer at TAP, I have definite ideas around how giving should happen, and more importantly how thanking should be taken care of. When it’s done well, I keep giving, and when it isn’t, that virtually ensures I won’t give again. I know how challenging this work is, so my expectations are high.
I support local art because I wholeheartedly believe in its incredible power across so many facets of life.
Because it helps address and heal mental and physical health challenges Because it creates a place and makes space for marginalized people of all types (and here). Because it develops empathy.
Because STEAM will always have more power than STEM alone ever could (and here). Because it is a language all cultures recognize: we all have dance, story telling, music, craft and visual art. Because it’s an incredible economic driver to neighborhoods and communities
Because it builds bridges not fences. Because it attracts and retains employees, young people and business. Because it preserves our history, makes sense of our present and is a key to our future. Because it is what makes us human beings.
I had certainly given small donations here or there throughout my early adulthood, but came a little late to being a more intentional donor.
By that, I mean that I wasn’t solely contributing because a cause crossed my path, so to speak, but because I felt it was important to support this or that organization or cause. The majority of my giving has been to/for the arts. It’s where my passions lie and because the arts sector is so underfunded, I feel like my donations really matter.
I grew up in Fargo but lived away, mostly in NYC, for a long time. The concept of “local art” in NY is a little different than the Metro (smile) – you know, I couldn’t exactly afford a Chuck Close for my apartment (if indeed a Chuck Close would have FIT in my apartment – they are big paintings). But I digress.
The concept of supporting local art certainly hit me as I took over the reigns of the Rourke in 2012 – the validity of it, the importance of it. When you support local art, you support the vitality of your community. You support what gives it beauty or asks you to stretch your imagination or to put yourself in another’s shoes.
To be completely honest, working at TAP has taught me how important donating to causes I care about in a more active way. I’ve always done the “round up to donate” option at grocery stores and in high school I organized fundraisers for different causes, but working at TAP has taught me the importance of being an active supporter. I can’t give a lot of money, but I know now that what I can give is important.
Art has been formative in my life. I know that when local art is supported, more people will get to have life-changing arts experiences like I have.
So, I don’t really have a lot of experiences on the side of giving money to causes. I give time in various ways. I donated very little money to causes, aside from donations to help people I knew with life problems, until I started working at TAP and gave a little here and there to groups on GHD. I have helped coordinate and hang entry-fee-less art shows like A Women’s Perspective (now on likely permanent hiatus) for several years in the past. I’ve made and modeled bra art for Bras on Broadway. I’ve donated my time to theatre productions in town both on stage and off. I’ve done most of it because I wanted to make art either on my own or with other artists, as well as support art and people in my community or larger personal sphere.
My first memory contributing to a fundraising campaign was in high school. I can remember the Human Rights Campaign was just getting really big and as a small-town kid, it was important to me to get involved with a cause that was bigger than me . It taught me something as simple as a little square equals sign sticker could make me want to jump on board and advocate for my own rights.
It wasn’t always this way, but I can proudly say I support local art each and every day. I wake up every morning with a desire to get involved and inhale creativity. Each moment I’m involved with the arts add up and feed into my daily creativity, ambition and problem-solving.