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City, SWMHP to collaborate on arts initiative

WORTHINGTON -- A portion of a $3 million grant to incorporate arts and culture into southwest Minnesota communities will be making its way to Worthington.

The Worthington City Council approved Monday night a memorandum of understanding between the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (SWMHP) and the city to participate in activities conducted as part of the ArtPlace America Community Development Investments. ArtPlace America had awarded SWMHP the $3 million grant last fall, and Worthington is the second city to be chosen by the partnership to benefit from the grant.

Lisa Graphenteen, chief operating officer for SWMHP, described the grant to the Daily Globe last fall.

“They (ArtPlace America) really wanted, I think, to reach new sectors and organizations that were really lacking that arts and cultural piece in their core community development work, so we thought it was a really good fit,” Graphenteen said for an Oct. 4 story.

“I think it is going to open a number of doors,” she added. “It’s going to create new partnerships. … We were not connected to the public arts commission (in Worthington). We weren’t connected to the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council.”

The memorandum of understanding approved Monday by the council notes that ArtPlace America funding to SWMHP will “incorporate arts and culture into the community engagement, planning and implementation activities … in order to help strengthen the social, physical and economic fabric of communities.”  The city, along with SWMHP, will work together, states the memorandum, to “engage community members in the planning process, especially individuals from diverse households or those that are typically underrepresented in the community planning process, in order to aspire to community-driven projects and programs that best affirm and reflect the identity of the city.”

SWMHP has already begun working with the city of St. James on utilizing ArtPlace America funds. St. James recently hosted a “Community Connection Festival” to discuss current and potential community assets; a similar event will likely be scheduled soon for Worthington.

Representatives from ArtPlace America and SWMHP did visit Worthington last October to discuss what types of projects the grant money could go toward, as well as to receive public input.

Terms of the memorandum approved Monday also state that the city is not guaranteed a specific amount of funding, and the SWMHP will serve as the lead coordinator of the effort. The city will not be responsible to reimburse SWMHP for planning services -- they will be reimbursed through the grant -- and if the city seeks services from the partnership that are outside the ArtPlace activities, the partnership will present a proposal or contract to the city outlining those costs.

SWMHP will determine how ArtPlace funds may be used, as well as what other resources exist to address community needs. It will also provide a quarterly report to the city on the ArtPlace efforts. As for the city, it will assist in outreach and marketing efforts to help engage the community.

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

(507) 376-7320
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