Art Events Are Back!

Authored on
September 27, 2022

The summer is officially over and it has been a busy arts season in East Central Minnesota. The global pandemic has reminded us just how important the arts are to our well-being, and how lucky we are to have so many high-quality, inclusive, accessible arts experiences in our region.

Pine City Pride in the Park was a great success. The organizers estimated an increase in attendance by 30-40 percent. The event provided five hours of entertainment to an intergenerationally diverse audience. “We were met with beautiful people doing beautiful things. Kindness, love for all, please, thank you, excuse me, I love your shirt, etc. It was the most phenomenal thing I’ve experienced in this divided world we live in,” an attendee reflected.

In nearby Chisago County, Franconia Sculpture Park commissioned Minnesota-based artists of color, N. Musinguzi and Jose Dominguez, for their Franconia Sculpture Park Artist Billboard Project, a rotating public art installation on a billboard located at the intersection on the corners of Highways 8 and 95 in Shafer, Minnesota. The two billboards highlighted the work of emerging artists N. Musinguzi and Jose Dominguez – and were seen by more than 7,500 cars each day and Franconia’s 180,000 annual visitors.

“Visitors to the opening overwhelmingly stated how rare it was to see positive BIPOC and queer representation not just in rural Minnesota, but within cultural organizations at large. Many visitors cited that they might not otherwise have visited Franconia, or had not visited before, but were encouraged to return based on our work and outreach to underserved communities. Further, Franconia has now carved out a space where communities of color (and particularly going forward, indigenous communities) can self-curate, program, and organize at the park.

We will be continuing this project going forward, with our next installation by Thomasina TopBear (Oglala Lakota) having opened September 2022, and both 2023 artists being contemporary Native artists working in rural Minnesota. Thank you for helping us launch this important project not just for Franconia, but for artists and visitors at large!” says Ginger Porcella, Project Director.

The City of Mora is hosted their Music in the Park Summer Concert series on Thursday evenings. The bands and artists included the Whitesidewalls Rock’n’Roll Review, Anthony Militich, Michael Shynes, Slim Pickin’s and others. The events are held at Library Park, and are very family friendly. You might see folx with picnic baskets or take-out dinners enjoying the music, kids playing on nearby playgrounds, or dogwalkers stopping for a listen. The concert series finale occurred during the Fall Fest on September 24 featuring Kenny Krona and Rick Stener.

The East Central Regional Arts Council Board of Directors is beginning an Intercultural Diversity Inventory with Aamera Siddiqui of Exposed Brick Theatre in September 2022. The training is part of ECRAC’s Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility training process. IDI helps organizations build intercultural competence to achieve international and domestic diversity and inclusion goals and outcomes. We are very excited to launch this work and learning more about how we can continue to better address IDEA in our region. Keep in mind that your arts organization can also do this work, email director@ecrac.org to find out how.

Lastly, ECRAC has Board Member openings for Mille Lacs and Kanabec Counties and for a Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe member! If you are interested, please fill out the Board Member Application.

Reminders from past updates!

Art Grant Deadlines in East Central Minnesota are October 1st:

We are currently welcoming new and former applicants to apply for art grant funding. For details go to ECRAC Available Grants.

IMAGE Art Show Call for Entries are due October 15th:

You can enter the 35th Annual IMAGE Art Show now - go to IMAGE Art Show for all the details.

What else is new?:

This summer ECRAC updated the event calendar! Check it out to find out about upcoming art events or to add your own art event.


These activities are made possible with funds appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature from its general fund and the arts and cultural heritage fund, and also by The McKnight Foundation.