Cooperative venture promotes arts in Park Rapids area

n Editor's note: The Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council, PRLAAC, is a unique, proactive organization that works cooperatively to 'promote excellence in arts.' This and the ensuing articles will introduce the individuals and organizations that in...

Paul Dove
Opera director Paul Dove discusses past performances, the company's finances and the future Friday night at a donor appreciation party and fundraiser. Behind him is the Northern Light Wind Quintet, which was the evening's "opening act." The Northern Light Opera Company will perform "Fiddler on the Roof" in 2009.

n Editor's note: The Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council, PRLAAC, is a unique, proactive organization that works cooperatively to 'promote excellence in arts.' This and the ensuing articles will introduce the individuals and organizations that incubate and create the events and artistic endeavors that engage Park Rapids area audiences.

When the former Park Rapids middle school came up for sale, Northern Light Opera Company founders Paul and Pat Dove considered the possibility of a "home of our own."

The auditorium, they decided, was appropriate for performances and there was space for other arts groups.

A meeting with representatives from the other arts organizations determined the middle school was not an option.

"But what came out of the effort was the plan to get all the arts groups to work together and coordinate schedules," Pat Dove recalled, "to make sure our concerts and happenings were not scheduled at the same time."


The Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council (PRLAAC) was born in 2005, "to promote excellence in the arts through creation, education, and performance."

PRLAAC serves as an umbrella organization for arts and cultural organizations in the greater Park Rapids area. Representatives from these arts groups, along with individual arts project champions, meet monthly to coordinate arts calendars, share information and incubate interest in new arts projects. 

The PRLAAC board meets at noon in the conference room of Coldwell Banker/Clack & Dennis Real Estate. Meetings are the first Monday of the month, unless posted otherwise.

PRLAAC applied for and received 501(c)(3) status. The organization serves as an umbrella, under which all the arts groups can apply for funding, specifically those without a 501(c)(3).

Artist Dawn Kast designed a colorful logo, expressing colorful exuberance for the arts.

PRLAAC Members are: Blank Canvas Gallery, Headwaters Center for Lifelong Learning, Heartland Concert Association, Jackpine Writers' Bloc, Jasper's Jubilee Theater, Minnesota Folklore Theater, Nemeth Art Center, Northern Light Opera Company, Northland School of Dance, Park Rapids Area Community Band, Park Rapids Classic Chorale, Park Rapids Area Community Education, Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Terrapin Station and White Birch Artists.

The first event cooperative effort was "One River Mississippi" which was a "great success," said Pat Dove.

Park Rapids was the first stop on the Great River with concurrent events along the Mississippi, ending in New Orleans.


When one of the members, Bickey Bender, had an idea for branching out, she was encouraged to pursue the initiative; PRLAAC would be the support in any way possible.

Blank Canvas Art Gallery emerged on Main and was able to apply for funding under the PRLAAC umbrella, before receiving tax exempt status.

Events and projects that have been incubated under the sponsorship of PRLAAC are Art Leap, Arts Downtown PR, Noon Hour Concerts, Red Bridge Film Festival and Youth Arts & Music Showcase. These have become annual events.

Arts Legacy Destination

In 2011, the Region 2 Arts Council awarded Park Rapids an Arts Legacy Designation. The city was the first to receive this award in the five-county region of Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Lake of the Woods and Mahnomen counties.

The award, based on a competitive grant application, came with a check for $10,000 that was used to purchase a portable performance stage.

As part of the process of obtaining the designation, the city created an Arts and Culture Advisory Commission to serve as a liaison and advise the city council on matters pertaining to arts and culture,

Art Leap


Art Leap 2012 (Sept. 22 and 23) is a driving tour of artists' studios and workshops and other culturally rich destinations, including live entertainment at a number of venues.

Studios are generally open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. No entry fee is required and admission is free to all visitors. A handicapped accessible bus will be offered on Sept. 22 to a select number of sites. A small fee will be charged to those wishing to ride the bus.

This open studio tour has brought hundreds of visitors to artists' studios and other venues since Art Leap started in 2006.

One artist commented: (Art Leap) "allows an opportunity to meet with those who might otherwise never visit the gallery. It seems as though more people attend the event every year." Art Leap has been shown to be an exciting event for participants and visitors and has received good publicity as an event as well as given visibility to artists.

Art Leap is a Legacy grant funded event, sponsored by PRLAAC.

Arts Downtown PR

As the name implies, Arts Downtown PR invites audiences to see and hear visual artists, musicians, writers and other artists in businesses in downtown Park Rapids on the Third Thursday of the month.

Hours are generally 5 to 7 p.m.


Since July 2010, Arts Downtown PR attendees have met poets and authors, heard woodwind quartets and bluegrass bands, seen art and photography displays, listened to vocal soloists and ensembles and enjoyed a variety of other programs.

Events are free and open to the public with a free will donation to the artists encouraged.

Artists interested in participating may contact Lu Ann Hurd-Lof at 652-4081 or by e-mail at for more information.

This year, Arts Downtown participants are eligible to receive a $50 honorarium.

Youth Music & Arts

Youth Music & Arts Showcase IV (Aug. 16, 17 and 18) will showcase the artistic and musical talents of Park Rapids area youth.

This three-day event is comprised of four activities:

n Young artists (grades 5-12) are invited to enter their original art work for judging, display in downtown businesses and cash prizes;


n Preschoolers are invited to do chalk art on downtown sidewalks;

n Young musicians perform at coffee-house style music events and in Pioneer Park on Main Street, and

n A concert featuring young musicians is given.

"We are currently exploring other ideas for community events or projects that we can encourage and support," Pat Dove said.

The organization's website is .

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