In this issue:

  • SMAC COVID-19 Updates from Executive Director Nicole DeBoer

  • SMAC Hosts Virtual Arts Conversations

  • SMAC Awards $129,348 to Local Arts Organizations & Students

  • SMAC Gallery Updates

  • New Board Members for Rock County

  • SMAC COVID-19 Conversations for the Arts

Pictured: Sculptures by John Larson , who received an Individual Artist : Established Career grant from SMAC to advance his ceramic body of works.
A Message from the SMAC Executive Director
It has been over a month since Governor Walz declared a peacetime emergency and directed Minnesotans to stay at home. Since then SMAC Staff have kept the regional arts council going from our homes. It has been a blessing and a curse: We are grieving the loss of schedule and being able to connect in person with artists, arts organizations and fellow staff members. But we are finding comfort and new energy in the changes that “shelter in place” has wrought.

SMAC board and staff are listening and paying attention to your stories of loss and resilience in the face of this pandemic. We hear your concerns about the future. Know that we are committed to supporting artists, arts organizations, and groups who create art and provide arts access in our communities.

As we approach the start of our fiscal year on July 1, 2020 - we are planning for cuts to our budget as much of our grantmaking is based on funding through state sales tax revenues. Regardless of the funding amounts that will be revealed at the end of the legislative session, our mission remains as it has since 1974: to ENCOURAGE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARTS in the 18-county region of Southwest Minnesota.

The SMAC office will continue to be closed for visitors. At this time we are not sure when it will be safe for staff to open to the public. For these reasons, it is important to use our general email ( ) to communicate and, if needed, set up time for a call to discuss your needs.

We encourage any grantee that has had to change plans because of COVID-19 to contact us immediately to talk about changing the details of their grant to allow them more flexibility in how they use the funds. We plan to be as flexible as possible in this regard. We will work with any grantee to find appropriate solutions to the extent that the law will allow.

Minnesotans are known for working hard, for being generous, and for pulling together in times of crisis. That spirit has never been more present than in this unprecedented and challenging moment. As artists, creatives and arts supporters we can lead the way in finding solutions to arts access and life enrichment during times of isolation. Please share your ideas and needs.
Be well. Keep doing art,
SMAC will continue to communicate about our own changes and updates due to COVID-19 through social media channels ( Facebook and Instagram ), email and our website .

We also encourage you to utilize the the Springboard for the Arts Resource page at: Lists of helpful online resources for the Minnesota arts community can also be found on our webpage as well as by searching " Resources " on our News & Events posts on our website:
Southwest Minnesota Arts Council to hold Virtual Conversations with Artists, Creatives and Organizations dealing with the Arts

SMAC sees a continuing need to connect our area arts communities in these unique times so we are hosting casual "check-ins". We hope to see you there!

There will be TWO chances to join the conversation:
For Arts Organizations:

Tuesday, May 12
3 pm - 4:30 pm
For Individual Artists & Creatives:

Thursday, May 14
3 pm - 4:30 pm
Please join our meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone:

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (571) 317-3122
- One-touch: tel:+15713173122,,623395245#

Access Code: 623-395-245

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:

*If you would like a reminder email to be sent on the morning of the meeting, please let our marketing coordinator know at   .
In addition to our gallery up front where we feature artist exhibit that rotate six times throughout the year, we ALSO have an On-Loan Gallery! SMAC's On-Loan Gallery features works from SMAC grantees, Board Members, and Staff. Most of the works are even FOR SALE! 100% of the sale goes directly to the artist. Works are rotated on a yearly basis.
Click here to take a virtual tour of the SMAC On-Loan Gallery!
Please contact staff if you are interested in purchasing a piece:

You can also contact our staff if you are a SMAC grantee (past or present) and are interested in showing your work in the On-Loan Gallery, we can put up to two pieces from a single artist.
Southwest Minnesota Arts Council awards local arts organizations and students $129,348

SMAC awards $125,923 to local arts organizations
On April 28, 2020 the SW MN Arts Council Board awarded the following fifteen organizations Art Project grants. Art Project grants provide organizations in the SMAC region with up to $7,000 in matching funds to stimulate and encourage the creation, performance and appreciation of the arts. 20% cash match required.

  • Blue Mound Area Theatre, Luverne, $7,000 to bring in The Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience Holiday Show to the Palace Theatre in Luverne on December 11, 2020. Funds will go towards the cost of the band and their crew (including lodging for one night and food for performers, technical staff and volunteers during set up) and advertising. The applicant said they hosted Shaun Johnson and the Big Band Experience last summer; the show was a success and they have received many requests to bring the group back.

  • Crow River Singers, Hutchinson, $2,020 to present two winter concerts during the month of December in 2020. The concerts will consist of holiday favorite songs/pieces selected by longtime choir members and the directors. Old songs & new songs will be incorporated in to the concerts. The applicant says their community choir encourages all ages, abilities, ethnicity and genders to participate in the concerts. Their focus is to share their love of music with others by participation and interaction, while creating a musical education for both choir and audience members.

  • Dawson-Boyd Community Education, Dawson, $4,470 for their summer 2020 Children's Musical, Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, Jr. This production will be for students finishing grades 2-11. New this year, they plan to hire a student stage manager to assist the director. High school students will also play active roles in in the production through staging, lighting, hair, makeup, costume changes, etc. There will be three adult paid positions for the community show: Director, stage manager, and costume director.

  • Dassel Area Historical Society, Dassel, $3,416 for their Dassel Art Tour, which is hosted in the fall. For this event, a variety of artists exhibit at the Dassel History Center, local homes, studios, and local businesses. More than 30 artists are involved in this one-day event, and more than 500 guests are expected. A juried K-12 student exhibition at L.Louise Art & Home and an art advocacy photo booth will be part of the Tour. The event is scheduled for Saturday, October 24, 2020. 

  • Granite Area Arts Council (GAAC), Granite Falls, $6,146 for a project they are calling The Imbibe Sessions, which they explain as "an intimate arts and education series that showcases the history and development of American music from the 1920s through the present." The GAAC will partner with the local Bluenose Gopher Public House to host these sessions, as well as the Granite Falls Historical Society hosting an event at the Andrew J. Volstead House Museum. These sessions recognize the 100th year since the inception of the Volstead Act, the law championed by Granite Falls resident and US Congressman Andrew Volstead that took effect in 1920 to support Prohibition. Through partnerships with highly skilled musicians, this series is intended to provide participants with an immersive experience in the diverse sounds and history of a variety of musical styles, as well as a glimpse into the way music and types of prohibition interact. This gives both the artist and the audience the opportunity to examine music and their own relationship to it from a new and unique perspective. 

  • Greater Milan Initiative (GMI), Milan, $6,915 to hire the Defrost Project, a group of artists that uses theater as a tool to explore local issues, build community, and interrogate the so-called “urban-rural divide” in rural places. In July 2019, the Defrost Project spent three days in Milan as part of a series of workshops in small towns across MN, and will return to Milan for a longer and deeper collaboration. Throughout July 2020, The Defrost Project will host (and co-host with local groups and individuals) several workshops each week that use theatre to explore what it means to live in Milan, investigate what challenges Milan faces (some specific to Milan and some facing many rural communities in MN), and imagine possible solutions to those challenges. These events will vary widely and partner with different organizations and sites in an attempt to connect with as many people as possible. The project will culminate with a celebratory performance that brings together the whole community to share what came out of the many workshops.

  • KMS Community Ed, Kerkhoven, $3,750 to start an annual tradition of giving local elementary students more access to a variety of arts over the summer. KMS Community Ed plans to start with two activities this year, and every year add another that introduces new concepts and experiences, until an annual, well-rounded arts program is in place for the summer. Their first two arts activities, funded by this grant, are a week long residency with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre, and a field trip to the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

  • Marshall Area Farmers Market, Marshall, $4,000 for arts performances at their Farmer's Market in late summer and fall. The applicant says, "performances in the Market would provide community access to professional performers on a weekly basis during a 10 week period from July 18th through September 19th. The performances would expose a diverse cross-section of area residents to a variety of performance art. The addition of music, dance and cultural traditions creates an atmosphere of togetherness, promotes arts appreciation and assists in creating a vibrant weekend destination for the citizens of the Marshall area."

  • Marshall Area Fine Arts Council (MAFAC), Marshall, $631 for their 2020-21 exhibit program for their gallery space, located in downtown Marshall on 3rd Street. MAFAC will feature an exhibit program of five exhibits that showcase local and regional artists. This year's artists include Anna Johannsen from Windom (paintings, drawings and fibre arts), painter Kari Weber of New London, and visual artist (paintings, ink drawings and sculpture) John Sterner of Marshall. The exhibit schedule also includes MAFAC's Annual Photo Exhibit & Competition, the annual Lyon County High School Art stars exhibit, and annual Ekphrastic Poetry event & reading. MAFAC hosts an artist reception for each exhibit.

  • MN Valley Community Concert Association (MVCCA), Montevideo, $3,350 to support their 2020-21 Concert Series. MVCCA has selected four different concerts to provide a variety of live musical performances featuring internationally renowned artists who bring their culture and talents to rural Minnesota. The concerts will feature a vocalist from New Zealand performing pop to classical songs, a vintage jazz combo group, a solo pianist who plays a variety of music from ragtime to classical music, and a vocal duo that sing folk and rock music. The applicant says, "for a minimal fee, the concerts will provide an opportunity for exposure to several types of music through voice and or musical instruments to residents and students of Montevideo and other communities in a surrounding 40 mile radius."

  • Murray County Historical Society, Slayton, $2,369 for their "Dinehart Front Porch Music Series". For three Thursday evenings from July 16 through July 30, the Murray County Historical Society plans to host their annual Front Porch Music Series at the Historic Dinehart Holt House in Slayton, MN. The applicant says that "during the early part of the 20th century, local lore told that on summer evenings people would stop along the sidewalk in front of the house to listen to piano music drifting from the parlor windows. In the spirit of local history, the historical society will host musical acts to be performed from the front porch of the house." The performers include: Starfire, a 1950s and 1960s Rock and Roll cover band. Kordal Kombat, a local barbershop and acapella group with national appearances and acclaim. And The Skally Line, an acoustic group specializing in historical music. The applicant said, "our goal with this concert series is to provide a unique historic venue to our under-served population who may have little or no experience with the museum or live music thereby increasing possible future patronage of the museum."

  • Prairie Arts Chorale, Marshall, $4,254 for their 2020 Fall Concert Season. This concert theme will be "Forty Years on the Prairie". The organization plans to explore genres that the Chorale has made standards in the forty years of the group's existence. This will include old favorites while exploring new music and bringing the history of the Prairie Arts Chorale to life. The chorale will perform five concerts and will be adding additional instruments in the form of a string quintet to supplement the regular pianist. This year they will be doing a concert a a new venue, The Barn Theatre in Willmar. The other towns they will have performances in include: Wabasso, Marshall, Montevideo and Spicer.

  • Prairie Winds Concert Band, New London, $3,725 for their 2020-21 Concert Series. The Prairie Winds Concert Band performs 2 indoor concerts a year, featuring concert band repertoire that includes high school and college level works. The band plays 4-5 summer concerts at Robbins Island in Willmar, with lighter musical fare featuring songs from Broadway musicals, familiar marches, patriotic music, and pop tunes. They also perform at the Veteran's Tribute Day at the Kandiyohi County Fair. Their fall concert will feature Russian music and the spring concert theme will be "Colors". 

  • Spicer Beautification Committee, Spicer, $5,075 for their "Music in the Park" series. This applicant said this series "brings together talented musicians, an appreciative audience, local artists, and food vendors on six consecutive Sunday afternoons in July and August." In addition to musicians the organization plans to feature two to three artists representing a variety of art forms at each of the 2020 concerts in an attempt to interweave art and music into the social life of the Spicer community and to give visibility to local artists. They are working with with the Willmar Arts Council to reach out to local artists. The applicant plans to collaborate with local nonprofits to help them raise funds by providing food vending at concerts. Community Rhythms, an African / Latin drum circle led by John Moldanado, will give a short performance at one of the concerts. The drummers are an ethnically diverse group who will feature music not commonly heard in the Spicer area.

  • Willmar Community Theatre/The Barn Theatre, Willmar, $6,650 for their 2020 Summer theatre season. The Barn Theatre will audition, cast and produce three main stage productions new to The Barn Theatre, consisting of a musical, a drama and a comedy, to be directed by three unique directors. The plays are Dreamwork's Shrek the Musical, Bram Stoker's Dracula by John L. Balderston and Hamilton Deane, and Escanaba in Da Moonlight Written by Jeff Daniels. There will be a total of 28 performances to be performed at The Barn Theatre in Willmar, MN.  
On April 28, 2020 the SW MN Arts Council Board awarded the following three organizations Art Legacy Project grants. Art Legacy Project grants provide organizations in the SMAC region with up to $25,000 to stimulate and encourage the creation, performance and appreciation of the arts through large-scale projects that will leave an arts legacy in Southwest Minnesota. 20% cash match required. (Please note for fiscal year 2021 the grant limit will be lowered to $20,000)
  • City of Slayton, Slayton, $11,652 to install a community mural within a Pocket Park in downtown Slayton. The applicant wrote that "as the first of its kind, the public art project will be a source of pride and heritage for residents and visitors. The mural will enhance the current space which has been under utilized and provide a gathering place in the downtown. The mural will be a significant addition in terms of the wall size of the circa 1915 building, but more importantly, it will provide a focal point for the area." The selected design places present day Slayton within the context of the surrounding beauty of the prairie and lakes, pays tribute to the past, recognizes the importance of agriculture to the town and shows how Slayton values education and its young people. The applicant said these themes appeared again and again as the committee gathered input and discussed what was vital for their first mural. Pictured the is sketch by artist Greg Preslicka that was selected to be fleshed out into the mural for Slayton.

  • Department of Public Transformation (DoPT), Granite Falls, $25,000 to continue financially aiding in establishing the nation’s first Small Town City Artist in Residence program. The DoPT, along with local partners, will embed regional and national artists in the City of Granite Falls, where they will collaborate with city departments on artistic projects that address city-related initiatives, engage residents in planning processes, encourage participation in civic life, highlight and inform the public on inner-workings of the City, and energize locations around Granite Falls with creative activity. After six months of planning, learning, and development with a Community Advisory Group (supported by SMAC Arts Legacy Planning Grant), DoPT is in the process of selecting the first City Artist in Residence; this grant will support this artist to work in collaboration with the City and local residents on the program’s first civic-engaged artist-in-residence program and related projects.
Worthington Public Arts Commission, Worthington, $20,000 for the Artmobile to partner with the City of Worthington, Garden Club, Community Image Committee, and youth organizations for the development and beautification of a city-owned vacant lot in downtown Worthington. This space will be made into a community gathering space that sits adjacent to their Farmers Market. The organizers say this will attract many people, exposing them to public art. Projects to develop the space include participants making two 8x8 feet murals, two 24"x24" tile planter boxes, and three decorated ceramic tile cement benches. This project plans to involve area residents, youth, recent immigrants and other community groups, in collaboration with the named organizations, together to create public art through Artmobile workshops. The applicant says, "this partnership meets the goals of the Artmobile, to create community-driven projects that affirm and reflect the identity of the City of Worthington. Since there is limited space for locals to relax or gather in the downtown area, this project would also meet that need." Pictured: Artist Agnes Alsgaard Lien working on an Artmobile project, from guest artist Nancy Losacker, a cement base glass tile mosaic planter. Gail Holinka also worked in finishing the project.

On April 28, 2020 the SW MN Arts Council Board awarded the following two organizations board initiated grants:

  • The Department of Transformation (DoPT), Granite Falls, $3,000 for a sponsorship to launch a Virtual Artist Residency program, meant to generate solutions to community challenges facing our region during the COVID-19 crisis. The DoPT will engage six artists from six different rural and tribal communities in Southwest Minnesota, and support these creative community leaders in sharing their work in digital forums and social distance formats; these Virtual Artists in-Residence will foster conversations around each community’s needs and develop new creative programming strategies to improve food access, mitigate housing instability, and amplify anti-bias, antiracism, and anti-xenophobia efforts. Their partners in this project include Dakota Wicohan, Racing Magpie, and the Southwest Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnership. The Dopt is also seeking additional support from BlueCross BlueShield for this program. 

  • Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative, $2,500 for their annual Young Artist Conference, held in Marshall at the Southwest Minnesota State University campus in October, open to 18 counties. This one-day conference will include many "hands on" arts workshops for students in grades K-8. It will also include a keynote artist speaker to start the day off with inspiration. The conference is usually attended by about 800 students and 40 paid teaching artists. Guardians are also invited to attend with students.
SMAC Awards $3,425 to local students

On April 28, 2020 the SW MN Arts Council Board awarded the following seven students Art Study Opportunity for Youth grants , which provide up to to  $500  to allow young artists entering grades 5 – 12 to attend an enrichment camp or specialty study. Standard weekly lessons (such as piano or voice lessons) are allowed only for those students who qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program. Arts supplies costs are allowed for students attending a MN public arts high school. No match requirements.
The SMAC staff will be in contact with students if details change due to COVID-19 complications.

  • Ashlyn Brouwer, Raymond, $500 to with with local Renville artist Dona Larkin, who specializes in oil portraits and landscapes. Ashlyn says that "oils is not an art media you can really learn in school so this would be a great opportunity". Funds will go towards art supplies, six 2 hour sessions with the instructor, and mileage.

  • Isaac Brouwer, Raymond, $500 to study pottery under instructor Craig Edwards. Isaac said this grant would give him the opportunity to practice pottery and grow his skills. He hopes to learn to make "bigger and better" pots with more unique designs and to have studio hours on the pottery wheel to better understand and grow his abilities. Funds will go towards mileage and classes with the instructor, who will supply the art materials during the sessions.
  • Hannah Graves, Raymond, $428 to study with Dona Larkin of Renville to learn the art of oil painting. Hannah plans to do five 2-hour painting sessions with the instructor. Hannah has some experience with acrylic paints and says she is interested in pursuing oil paints because "it is a more time consuming process and if awarded this grant then I would have the time set out, the materials, the studio space and the mentor to enable me to further pursue my passion for creating art and growing as an artist." Pictured: Cactus, acrylic painting on canvas by Hannah Graves.

  • Leighton Paulson, Granite Falls, $500 to study violin at the Upper Midwest String Camp, sponsored by the Minnesota String & Orchestra Teachers Association (MNSOTA). Leighton says there will be several instructors and people with music degrees that can help him advance his violin skills. He said "I will have opportunity for chamber music master classes and concerts in both small groups and orchestra situations. I will also meet many more people my age that enjoy classical music like I do. I'm hoping we can challenge and encourage one another to do better, both at camp and in the future." The camp is on the campus of St Benedict University in St Joseph MN. Several accomplished teachers will be working with students from grades 7-12. 

  • Lincoln Paulson, Granite Falls, $500 to study the viola at The Upper Midwest String Camp put on at the college of Saint Benedict. Lincoln says, "they provide high quality teaching not readily available to students like me in rural areas. I will have lots of opportunities for small group practice in chamber music and also in an orchestra of other students that I have much in common with. I will be able to improve my playing and musicality as I take advantage of the instruction of the very accomplished musicians engaged to teach this year."

  • Lindsey Setrum, Raymond, $497 to study painting with Michelle Steffen of Spicer. Lindsey will have two 2-hour sessions to learn techniques of watercolor painting. Lindsey said, "I am happy to have the chance to learn how to mix and make the watercolors pop out. When I paint with them on my own, they don't turn out how I imagined them to. I think learning from someone who paints a lot with watercolor would help me."

  • Maggie Setrum, Raymond, $500 to study with teaching artist Violet Dauk of New London. Maggie will take four drawing sessions and four painting sessions. Maggie said, "there is so much to learn. I would be grateful to see how someone makes art on their own and learn their tricks and style. I think this opportunity would help me be more confident in my skills, to draw larger and not be afraid to take risks and be okay with different results. I think lessons with Violet would give me more artistic experiences."
Next in the gallery: Danielle Wedeking

Danielle received a SMAC Developing Individual Artist Grant (now called an Emerging Individual Artist Grant) to professionally frame her multimedia drawings. Danielle's exhibit, titled Personal Magic , will run from May 18th to July 2nd, 2020. Danielle says "I enjoy drawing images from nature and that are full of details, contrast, and texture. I have been taking many of my own reference photos locally to add an element of familiarity with the southwest Minnesota area." After finishing with the grant project she remarked "the grant has allowed me to reach my goal of applying to galleries who require all artwork to be framed before hanging. It has also allowed me to exhibit my work in a more professional manner resulting in more interest in purchasing my work or exhibiting in other galleries and venues." Danielle has also exhibited at the St. Peter Center for the Arts and the Jackson Center for the Arts.

Due to safety concerns, we will not be hosting an artist reception for Danielle. However, we will post a virtual video tour of her exhibit, along with information on buying the pieces. Look for this release on the 18th of May. Also, be sure to watch our social media outlets ( Facebook and Instagram, and our website) for updates on a possible virtual artist talk with Danielle! If you are interested in purchasing a piece, please contact SMAC staff: *100% of the sales always go to our exhibiting artists!*
Artist Statement
Becoming a teacher has been such a huge part of the last 7 years. My own artwork took a back seat to grading, classroom management, lesson plans and project examples. I don’t think you ever get a full handle on teaching but within the last year I have been finding more time to work on my personal artwork resulting in the collection of drawings displayed in Personal Magic. Growing up in rural southwest Minnesota nature has always been a huge inspiration and I enjoy drawing and juxtaposing hard and soft imagery and textures in my artwork. While having always been interested in all things magical, I chose to use the occult imagery to evoke the “magic” that most people associate with the creation of art. As an art teacher a large part of my job is convincing students that they can in fact draw and its not a “magical’ skill that only a lucky few are born with. My show Personal Magic is an ode to my students, hard work, and practice.

Learn more about the artist!
Danielle Wedekng was born and raised in the small town of Lakefield, located in rural southwest Minnesota. She received her K-12 Visual Arts Education degree at Minnesota State University Mankato where she graduated magna cum laude in 2010. Danielle returned to southwest Minnesota and has been teaching 7-12 grade visual arts for the past 6 years. She is currently teaching at Heron Lake – Okabena High School where she teaches a variety of visual art subjects including drawing, printmaking, ceramics, painting, sculpture, photography and art history. Most recently Danielle received an individual artist grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council to help cover the cost of framing her drawings.

Grant Support *Virtual* Open Office:: the second Tuesday of the month

NEXT EVENT:  Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Email the SMAC office,, to setup a time to meet via phone or web conference anytime between 10 am to 2 pm for assistance with any grant-related questions. We can also accommodate group meetings digitally. These monthly events are a chance to get some work done and possibly talk with others in the arts community. Receive one-on-one guidance in: finding the right program, learning how to apply, preparing work samples, preparing budgets for proposals and more.

Plan to share your ideas or questions with us! SMAC staff will be available to help with any questions related to your applications, projects, final reports, or eligibility.
legacy logo

These activities are made possible by the voters of Minnesota thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Additional funding provided by the McKnight Foundation. Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive. The McKnight Foundation supports working artists to create and contribute to vibrant communities.
New SMAC Board representatives for Rock County

Please help Southwest Minnesota Arts Council welcome new Board Members and co-representatives for Rock County, Shawn Kinsinger and Louella Voigt!
Shawn is the Executive Director for the Palace Theatre in Luverne. He also has experience as the Vice President of Green Earth Players Community Theatre, a board member of Luverne Street Music and Artistic Director for the Luverne High School Theater. Shawn is highly involved both on-stage and back-stage for theater and musical productions in Luverne. Previously Shawn has written, recorded and performed music in a touring band for seven years. When asked why he was interested in serving on the SMAC Board as a representative for Rock County, he said, "I have lived in Luverne most of my life. I have watched my hometown grow and thrive in ways that I never thought it could, and much of that is thanks to the arts. The arts in Luverne are able to thrive thanks in part to SMAC. Helping SMAC continue to support the arts in towns all across southwest Minnesota is a good way to continue that growth." Thanks Shawn!
Louella Voigt enjoys singing in her community and Church choir and is on the board for the Blue Mound Area Theatre, which manages the Palace Theatre in Luverne. In serving that position on the board, she has "hands on" experience running the theater as well as assisting the board in aspects of program management, grant writing, volunteer coordinating and organizational planning. When asked why she was interested in a SMAC board position, she said, "I believe my contributions have been an asset on the local level and I would also be able to offer support on the regional level as well. Since my retirement I have been able to devote my time and attention to volunteer efforts in areas dear to my heart. I have been most appreciative of the resources SMAC has provided to many organizations in my local community. I would like to ensure that the mission of SMAC continues. As a SMAC board member I would best be able to advocate among arts people and organizations in Rock County and encourage them to utilize the support and resources Minnesota has to offer." Thanks Louella!
SMAC hosted Two Virtual Conversations on adapting to COVID-19 for artists and the arts community

In May SMAC held two virtual "check-ins" with area artists, creatives, and individuals dealing with the arts through organizations. Both were filled with open conversation and valuable sharing. On both of these calls SMAC realized what a need there is for artists, creatives, and organizers to have casual sharing opportunities. SMAC would like to help this need by hosting more of these virtual conversations. Mark your calendars for a conversation with organizations on Tuesday, May 12th at 3 pm and individuals on Thursday May 14th at 3 pm . We love hearing from you!

Both of these discussions were led by SMAC Staff, Lisa Bergh (Individual artist and the director for the Hutchinson Center for the Arts ), and Ashley Hanson (Individual artist and director of The Department of Public Transformation and founder of PlaceBase Productions ).

SMAC asked participants to speak about how the pandemic is affecting their situation, and what their immediate needs are and what they think their needs will be six months from now. Groups represented on the call included Pioneer PBS , the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council , The Lake Benton Opera House , The New London Little Theatre , The Barn Theatre in Willmar, The Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra , The Prairie Arts Continuum in Windom, as well as individual artists Bethany Lacktorin , Michele of DoughpCreations , and Darwin Dyce.

There were so many valuable ideas shared during these meetings but here are just a few highlights!

  • It’s important to stay connected during this time and to keep communicating on how organizations can work together and collaborate to not only lift each other up, but for organizations to also find ways to support individual artists in the region.

  • Continue with your membership and sponsorship drives! Don’t let everything come to stop. Now may even be the time to ramp up the fundraising efforts; there are people and businesses that are feeling financial hardships right now but there are also those who are feeling a lot of sympathy towards non-profits and the arts, motivating them to be very giving and philanthropic towards organizations that are doing good.

  • In terms of organizations that have had to cancel events, consider marketing to ask patrons to redefine that ticket sale as donation, especially already purchased tickets to consider it as a donation instead of a refund. Even if an audience member hasn’t paid yet, considering asking for a donation in the same amount of a ticket if they were planning to attend the event. Explain why that income is important to keep the organization going forward during this time, for future events to even be able to take place. If patrons don’t wish to donate already bought tickets, consider encouraging them to keep the tickets to be honored at a future event instead of issuing a refund. Just make sure your organization is also being understanding and empathetic. Let the patrons know that the money is appreciated and needed, but only if they are in a position to be able to give at this time. A resource that Ashley Hanson shared was the Artful Asker, a Minnesota based artist who has offers free webinars on “Emergency Funding” and how to go about it. One thing Ashley highlighted from this webinar was to have open communication and dialogue with your funders, consider saying something like “We all know this is a really hard time, and we all know we want our cultural institutions to survive this, so what would be a reasonable or respectful request from us?”

  • If your organization has a gift shop, consider how that can be made virtual. Can your organization take pictures or video of items to share on social media or a website? Information can be listed on how to contact, pay, and pick up items. The Marshall Area Arts Council has teamed up with the local library as a pick-up location for items. You may also wish to do individual features on artists who you have in the gift shop and the work they do.

  • If your organization has a gallery, is it possible to move items closer to windows for them to be seen from the outside? How about making a virtual tour of the exhibit items through photos or video? Interactive virtual artists talks can also be done through video meeting services like Zoom and Facebook Live.

  • Lisa Bergh spoke about noticing what’s already happening in your community spontaneously and working with it. The Hutchinson Center for the Arts has big windows, so she loaded the center's movable walls with the current exhibit-local student artwork- and put them all right up to the windows for passer-by's to look at. Some chalk art had been done on the ground near the Hutchinson Center for the Arts, so she put Tupperware with chalk outside with a message saying people were free to take some as long as they left some for others. She has also been putting together free “take-home” art kits since their centers “Art Kid Drop in Days” haven’t been able to happen. The kits, exhibit, and chalk have been very popular!

  • Darwin Dyce, an individual artist who also plays music in groups and for organizations, used to visit the local care center and go from room to room with his grandson playing music. Since he can’t do that anymore, he’s coordinated with the activity director to take an ipad from room to room while he does his music for the residents.

  • The Little Theatre in New London has been doing an online fundraiser through live streaming musical acts. They also set very realistic and specific goals that they communicate clearly, for example, listing the expenses of “keeping the lights on” through June can let your audience know exactly what they are paying for and why that specific goal is important.

  • The Marshall Area Fine Arts Council was approached by the city of Marshall to partner in a Social Distancing Photo Contest. Residents of Marshall were invited to take pictures of how the scenery might have changed during this pandemic and send them into the city of Marshall to be shared to an online album in Facebook. The photo with the most “likes” will be displayed at the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council once it is able to open again.  

  • The Department of Public Transformation realized that rural arts and cultural workers have a lot of creative ideas for how to connect across social distance already because of their geographical locations, so they put out a call to rural creatives across the county to create a list of creative resources and ideas for creative, compassionate and joyful connection during social distancing. This is an open-source list by all rural artists and it’s available here: And remember, this is still an open-source and growing list, so please add your ideas! There is also a link on their page that complies resources that they feel are most relevant to rural artists, since a lot of other resource pages have many resources that focus more specifically to urban areas.

  • Another tip Ashley shared was to set up virtual meetings with past arts groups just to check-in, and then to possibly start to move forward with a new project. For example, convene a meeting with a past cast of a play or artists in a group exhibit. Do a digital happy hour, a sing-along or a reading. Think about how you can provide a space and creative outlet for the artists that you’ve worked with to continue those relationships and let them know you’re there for them. These meetings can help people think more creatively about how to plan for the next phase-maybe how to plan and transform plays or events into a digital space, or to think more creatively about how a new rehearsal structure could look like-as opposed to every individual trying to think through these ideas on their own.

  • Now might be a good time to reach out to artists or other organizations you’ve had on your list to collaborate with! You can start to build relationships and strategize over this time so that when we come out “on the other side” we have strong relationships and are ready to move forward.

  • This is also a time for organizations, if they are able financially, to think about hiring individual artists who might be more digitally experienced to help facilitate meetings or creative activities on-line. This can take some of the burden off hosting for the organizations while channeling resources into the pockets of individual artists who might need the work right now.

  • SMAC offers a shared virtual arts calendar: remember, if your organization OR you as an individual artist are doing virtual arts events, SMAC wants to know about them! Share the details with us ( so we can get the information on our online calendar. And if you aren’t doing events, be sure to check out the entertainment and resources that are available to you through the calendar as well!

  • Lisa Bergh stressed how important staying visible is right now. Even though people might not be able to come into your center, or go to your event, make sure that they don’t forget about you. Keep active on social media and connect with other organizations and artists. Continue the work and don’t just “shut down” until we can be back to “normal”. Lisa said, “I am an artist too, and I think that in times of restriction-a lot of rules, a lot of restraint-is when the real problem solving starts.”

Our executive director, Nicole DeBoer, closed with explaining that SMAC is expected to take a cut to our budget as well, somewhere between 20-40%. This is because we are largely funded by state sales tax, which will go down as a result of the economy during this pandemic. Changes will have to be made in our organization and in our grants to deal with this reality. However, we will not be suspending a majority of our programs. We have been very active in seeking and listening to our constituents on how to proceed with these changes. Our Individual Artists grants will not be affected by the budget cuts , as that generous funding comes from the McKnight Foundation , which is not linked to sales tax.

We also want to let you know that we still plan to hold our Arts Organization Summit this summer, only that it will be virtual! The theme will be on accessibility. Look for future social media posts, our website and emails for more information! 

SMAC will continue to host casual, virtual check in's for organizations dealing with the arts and with individual artists and creatives. You are invited to join us for our next sessions:

  • Organizations dealing with the arts: Tuesday, May 12 @ 3 pm
  • Individual Artists & Creatives: Thursday, May 14 @ 3 pm

For more details on participating in these meetings, click here .
Check out our regional arts calendar!

We are continuing to post virtual arts events in our region on our website calendar. If you have events to let us know about, please email the details to!
From March 28th to April 30, 2020

Contributors: 52 Wing Restoration Committee, Appleton • RiverSong Music Festival, Hutchinson • Dale Lien, Madison • Klein Foods, Marshall • Angela Thell, Marshall • Richard Handeen & Audrey Arner, Montevideo • Arts & Mentoring Project (AMP), Pipestone • Reggie Gorter, Pipestone • John & Karin Gilbertson, Willmar •

Supporters: Anonymous Donor • Joyce Meyer, Canby • Kathy Fransen, Jackson • Lake Benton Opera House, Lake Benton • Al Opland Singers, Pipestone • Kris Swanson, Willmar • Beth Habicht, Worthington • Craig & Karen Pfeifer, Worthington •

Sustainers:  Marilyn Bloemendaal, Luverne

Patron: Patricia Mikle, Worthington •

Would you like to become a contributing member of SMAC or renew your membership?
You can do so online or by mail, for an individual membership, business membership, or organizational membership. For more information, visit:
Big Stone - John White
Jackson - Kristen Kuipers
Lincoln - Mark Wilmes
Meeker - OPEN
Pipestone - Erica Volkir
Rock - Shawn Kinsinger &
Louella Voigt
Chippewa - Georgette Jones
Kandiyohi - Cheri Buzzeo
Lyon - Michele Knife Sterner
Murray - Carisa Clarke
Redwood - David KelseyBassett
Swift - Alison Nelson
Cottonwood - Anna Johannsen
Lac qui Parle - Lauren Carlson
McLeod - Greg Jodzio & Lisa Hill
Nobles - Brett Lehman
Renville - Anne O'Keefe-Jackson
Yellow Medicine - Betsy Pardick
SW MN Arts Council STAFF
Executive Director - Nicole DeBoer
Grants/Financial Administrator - Caroline Koska
Marketing Coordinator/Receptionist - Krystl Louwagie