Arts and Culture

You don’t have to be a “starving artist” out here—with a much lower-cost of living than you’ll find in large metropolises, availability of locally grown foods, ample resources, and plenty of channels to market your wares, many artists have discovered that it can actually be easier to succeed as an artist in our region. (Not to mention that the beautiful scenery and peaceful surroundings will make it easier to hear your inner muse!)
Artists from all persuasions and from all over the U.S. have discovered this secret. Communities are recognizing that these creative newcomers bring a fresh energy to their towns, and also provide opportunities to expand their own cultural horizons, and so are actively welcoming them by creating spaces for artists to gather, work, and share their talents. Two such communities are New York Mills and Park Rapids. Read more about how these towns have embraced the arts here: (See Project Profile-New York Mills at back of this and/or and



Faced with the same challenges many rural communities struggled with in the 1970s through the 80s, New York Mills took a bold forward-looking step in 1991, when the city contributed $35,000 to the Regional Arts Retreat and Cultural Center to convert a downtown mercantile building into a multi-use arts and cultural facility. As a per-capita investment, this expenditure would be the equivalent of Minneapolis giving $13.7 million to an arts facility. The center, remodeled through a community-wide volunteer effort, opened its doors in June, 1992.

The NYMRCC now offers a wide array of programs including gallery exhibits, musical and theatrical performances, educational programs, literary studies, an artist-in-residence program, and the nationally acclaimed Great American Think-Off philosophy competition.
The Center has become a focal point for the community, and has helpe to revialize it in many ways:

*by bringing neighbors together through quality programming;
*by drawing visitors and new residents to the town from across the state and country;
*by regenerating a sense of community pride with the national recognition it has achieved;
*by stimulating the creative process, providing opportunities for each resident to foster their own creativity through the artists-in-residency program and classes offered at the center.

*Named one of the top five culturally cool towns by USA Today Weekend Magazine in 1994.
*Featured as one of the top 50 Funky Towns in Mark Cramer's 1995 nationally recognized book, Funkytowns, USA.
*Featured as one of "The 100 Best Small Arts Towns in America" by travel writer John Villani (1994).