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Letter: Thriving arts in Hastings is good for business

To the editor,

We applaud the citizens of Hastings for considering the Artspace reuse of the historic Hudson Manufacturing downtown. It is rare to attract an organization of this caliber, which launches very few projects nationwide every year, and only does so knowing that it is providing a financially sustainable, living resource that will benefit recipient communities for decades to come. This is a moment for pride, and savvy. There is no doubt that in Minnesota, arts are making communities prosperous. From Lanesboro to Fergus Falls, state Endowment for the Arts funds are being released in unprecedented amounts to communities outside the Metro area, both to improve the quality of life of residents, and to bring business in. It is working. Generation Y is travelling the state, and it wants to see something different, it wants access to artists and to see good art.

We are preparing to launch Making Hay Artists’ Workshop, a nonprofit for artists with disabilities that offers full immersion in professional-level arts programming. While our purpose is to provide meaningful and potentially transforming choices to all citizens, we also had to think of progressive markets. We want our local artists and staff to thrive, be visible, sell their artwork and to build a destination of distinction. In Hastings we found talented and dedicated artists working to make art in all its aspects, visual, performing, music, writing, accessible to the community. Thanks to the Hastings Prescott Area Arts Council, Hastings is rapidly gaining recognition as a force for the arts in the state. With HEDRA on the move to reinvigorate downtown, we could think of no better place to bring our initiative, and were thrilled to learn that Artspace has developed an interest right here.

Evidence of Artspace’s accomplishments is near at hand: visit the new Cowles Center in Minneapolis, already renowned internationally for its collaborations in dance and the performing arts. The Frogtown Family Lofts and Tilsner Artists’ Cooperative in St. Paul demonstrate how single edifices and what they house can turn around entire neighborhoods in decline. The key is what Artspace has known all along: apart from the more obvious benefits of cultural enrichment, artists are vested in their communities, and make good neighbors. Models for arts initiatives are all around us, and growing. We believe that Hastings is proving to be more than a tourist destination among its rivertown neighbors: it has a distinctive public life all its own, for its own. This is a formula for growth, and we are banking on the arts in Hastings.