Local artists grapple with plans for future

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Open-mic nights at the Creative Salon are one outlet for performing artists in downtown Rochester. Area visual and performing artists don't want to be forgotten as the city embarks on planning its Destination Medical Center initiative. FILE

Rochester area artists came up with a variety of dreams and plans Thursday night at an arts roundtable, but there was also a fear of being left out of the loop as Destination Medical Center planning is launched.

"We want to be part of the conversation, we feel we haven't been and we fear we won't be," Suzanne Szucs, one of the facilitators of the roundtable, said at the end of the session.

"Make your voices known," Szucs told the group. "We want to make sure we keep those conversations going."

Szucs, an art instructor at Rochester Community & Technical College, is a member of the board of C4, Concerned Citizens for a Creative Community , which convened the session at the Creative Salon.

About 60 artists and representatives of arts organizations took part in group discussions that looked at strategies for strengthening the arts, building audience and sharing information.


"We could all grouse for hours about what is wrong," Szucs said as the groups met. "But we want to focus on the positive."

A similar session was held over a year ago and growth in the arts community since then has been evident, said Sean Allen, of the C4 board. "The network that has been built is extraordinary," he said.

The discussion groups came up with a number of recommendations for consideration:

— joint marketing plans with local businesses, including hotels, better use of the Zumbro River for arts events, and development of artist housing and work space.

— overcoming a sense of isolation and lack of cohesion in the arts community by holding more social events

— reaching out to the city's diverse population, including disadvantaged youth

— taking full advantage of funding sources

— developing a weekly arts paper and a one-stop website for artists and arts events


— creating a central volunteer hub

— establishing a permanent arts space with paid staff

Listed among the strengths for the arts in Rochester were the wide range of free arts activities in the community, a supportive mayor and city council, the Southeast Minnesota Visual Artists Gallery, and the art collections and events at Mayo Clinic.

The issues uncovered at the meeting will now be turned over to a study group, which will develop a report and recommendations, Allen said.

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