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A new center for the arts downtown

A downtown arts and cultural center in Grand Forks could bring more people downtown, provide another venue for shows and exhibits and help the North Valley Arts Council become less dependent on grant money, arts council director Pamela Eaton Sier...

A downtown arts and cultural center in Grand Forks could bring more people downtown, provide another venue for shows and exhibits and help the North Valley Arts Council become less dependent on grant money, arts council director Pamela Eaton Siers said.

The North Valley Arts Council board of directors is in discussions to open a downtown arts and cultural center in the historic Widlund building at 12 S. Third St., the arts council announced Wednesday.

The arts council is planning an open house at the location from noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 13 to show the building to the public and to talk to those who may be interested in using the space, NoVAC Board President Mike Jacobs said in a news release. Jacobs is editor and publisher of the Herald.

If NoVAC's plan unfolds as planned, the organization would rent most of the building to other arts organizations, artists and performers and use that revenue to finance NoVAC.

Siers said the center would encompass 4,000 square feet of the Widlund building, which is across the street from Town Square and Wells Fargo Bank. Currently, Good Insurance occupies about 2,000 square feet of the structure. The building's owner is Jerry Meagher.

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Siers said she envisioned a center in the downtown that would bring people from all over the city and from the region as well.

"I like the location," she said. "I like that we'll be across the street from the Farmers Market (held in summer at Town Square). And there are some very nice businesses on that block."

The North Valley Arts Council office, at 124 N. Third St. above the Toasted Frog, can be reached by elevator or two flights of stairs. Moving to the new location would give the arts council street access and more exposure to the public. Siers and her assistant, Danielle Masters, are NoVAC's only paid employees.

"We can sit here all day long and not see anyone else," Siers said of their current location. "This way we will have street exposure and the advantage of that is we will be able to engage the public."

Siers said she has proposed calling the venue the Arts and Cultural Center of the Northern Plains. Here are the arts council's current plans for the center:

The arts council would eventually claim all 6,000 feet of the building and make it an arts and community center that could hold classes for children and adults and, in two large spaces, host conferences and meetings. There would be space for smaller offices that could be rented to nonprofit arts or cultural organizations or to artists. A space also would be available for small performances and exhibitions, national and international, as well as from Grand Forks and the region, Siers said. There would be a tea shot offering light refreshments.

Artists could have open studios and work directly with the public. People could come to see artists work and to shop, which would help make the center the tourist destination site the arts council wants it to be.

"I think this would be a terrific spot for Saturday morning classes for children," Siers said. In spring, the arts council is looking at classes for adults that would focus on landscaping or container gardening.

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"Something related to the arts but not exactly, directly, so that as far as class offerings, they would be for the general public," she said.

In the news release about the Dec. 13 open house, Jacobs said the arts council wanted the public to share its ideas about how the facility could best serve the community. The space has been renovated with a kitchen and restrooms accessible to people with disabilities, ready for occupancy, and the arts council is ready to talk to potential tenants, he said.

For more information, call the arts council at (701) 772-3710.

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to ptobin@gfherald.com . "I like the location," she said. "I like that we'll be across from the street from the Farmer's Market (held in summer at Town Square). And there are some very nice businesses on that block."

The North Valley Arts Council office, currently at 124 N. Third St. above the Toasted Frog, can be reached be elevator or two flights of stairs. Moving to the new location would give the arts council street access and more exposure to the public. Siers and her assistant, Danielle Masters, are NoVAC's only paid employees.

"We can sit here all day long and not see anyone else," Siers said of their current location. "This way we will have street exposure and the advantage of that is we will be able to engage the public."

Siers said she has proposed calling the venue the Arts and Cultural Center of the Northern Plains. Here are the arts council's current plans for the center:

The arts council would eventually claim all 6,000 feet of the building and make it an arts and community center that could hold classes for children and adults and, in two large spaces, host conferences and meetings. There would be space for smaller offices that could be rented to non-profit arts or cultural organization, or to artists. A space also would be available for small performances and exhibitions, national and international as well as from Grand Forks and the region, Siers said. There would be a tea shot offering light refreshments.

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Artists could have open studios and work directly with the public. People could come to see artists work and to shop, which would help make the center the tourist destination site the arts council wants it to be.

"I think this would be a terrific spot for Saturday morning classes for children," Siers said. In spring, the arts council is looking at classes for adults that would focus on landscaping or container gardening.

"Something related to the arts but not exactly, directly, so that as far as class offerings, they would be for the general public," she said.

In the news release about the Dec. 13 open house, Jacobs said the arts council wanted the public to share its ideas about how the facility could best serve the community. The space has been renovated with a kitchen and restrooms accessible to people with disabilities, ready for occupancy, and the arts council is read to talk to potential tenants, he said.

For more information, call the arts council at (701) 772-3710.

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to ptobin@gfherald.com .

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