Arts Alliance push for regional arts center tied to area economics

by Don Heinzman

ECM Publishers

Speakers from the Arts Alliance intend to tell how a regional art center in Elk River will bring economic benefits and create a destination point the city doesn’t have.

John Stander, director of the Arts Alliance, and Dave Raymond, chair of the Arts Alliance Board, will explain the reasons for seeking a regional art center Wednesday noon at Perkins Restaurant in Elk River.

This will be the final in the series of discussions sponsored by the Elk River Citizens League.  There is no charge and lunch can be ordered at 11:30 a.m.

Stander chaired the Minnetonka Arts Board of Trustees when Minnetonka built its $6.3 million art center.

He  says he’s excited, because within 12 miles of Elk River there are 12 arts organizations that want to come to a center in Elk River.

“While the economy is slow,” he said, “We are getting good response locally.”

Stander will explain how a special committee is still exploring the possibility of launching a feasibility study to begin a drive to purchase the vacant First National Bank  building.

“We are talking to foundations who support the arts,” said Raymond

Raymond and Stander will explain the economic impact of cities that are stressing the arts.  According to a 2006 study of Central Region 7W, which includes Sherburne County, there are 34 arts and cultural organizations that had a total economic impact of $8,963,750.

They will tell how arts centers have enriched the economy of Lanesboro, Grand Marais, Bloomington and White Bear Lake.

Raymond says the many artists and arts organizations in this region need a home.  The Arts Alliance realizes that some day it will have to vacate the building owned by the city.

“We need to find a permanent home for the arts in this region,” he said.

Stander was a teacher and headmaster for girls, boys and co-educational schools for 40 years.  He setup an international school with students from 53 countries, along with organizing schools in Taiwan and Ho Chi Minh City.

He has been director of the Elk River Arts Alliance for six years.

Raymond has been chair of the Arts Alliance for four years and involved in this area’s arts for 20 years.  He also is active in the Elk River Community Theatre.


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