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Local grant writer secures support for Regatta artists

Artist Shawn McCann, with help from local artists, will paint this mural on the side of the Veterans of Foreign Wars building on Second Avenue. Submitted photo

WORTHINGTON — Gail Holinka, in her own words, “wears many hats.” Not only does she teach art classes at Worthington High School, but she’s also a grant writer and chair of the Public Arts Commission. 

To commemorate the 15th annual Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival, Holinka wanted to do something big for the arts portion of the festival — so she got to writing.

“I wanted to do something really fun and special, so I wrote a grant to SMAC, the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council,” Holinka said.

Before Holinka could even submit the request for the grant, Holinka had to show the community supported the grant through matching funds.

“I’m really thankful to the people that helped support the grant,” Holinka said. “The WOW (Worthington Okabena Windsurfers) board, the Optimist Club, and the Nobles County Integration Collaborative are three big supporters that are helping make this happen.”

In mid-April, SMAC gave the word that the grant would be given.

“It’s a great honor to receive the grant,” Holinka said. “I believe we were one of 13 to get it, so it was a really tough round. We are very honored.”

So what will this grant get the community? The answer, simply put, is many, many different things. The grant will go toward artists’ fees, publicity and much more.

Mark Kurtz, better known as the “Chainsaw Man,” will be coming down for demonstrations.

Steve Turner, a drum-maker and performer, will be holding drumming sessions, andf Kevin Reese will be working with community members to create mobiles. The list goes on, and the artists won’t just be working by themselves — many of them will be working with art students as well as members of the community.

Holinka says there is still room for artists to join in the festival in the “Arts on the Shore” portion, where art vendors can sell their work along Sailboard Beach.

“We still have room for some artists to come, if they want to call the Chamber of Commerce,” Holinka stated. “But the deadline is fast approaching, so call as soon as possible.”

Holinka is extremely grateful for not only the grant, but the community members and organizations that have supported her in the endeavor.

“Without the help of some of those organizations, we couldn’t be doing all of this,” Holinka said. “The budget for art programs is usually pretty limited, and I guess that’s why I started writing grants in the first place. I saw what could happen to art programs without support. ... We are really thankful for all of this.”

Holinka hopes the community enjoys the projects for a long time to come and continues to support the arts.

“One of the main goals of the grant is community building,” explained Holinka. “Hopefully for many years to come, there is a remembrance of the 15th annual Regatta.”