City, RAAC put out a welcome matArts group will provide a visitors center in the Steeple Center four days a week
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
The Rosemount Area Arts Council’s mission is to build and strengthen the community through the arts. So when RAAC member Jeanne Schwartz read Patrick Overton’s Rebuilding the Front Porch of America, she had a eureka moment.
“Arts make communities more livable, more vibrant,” said Schwartz.
The book is a collection of essays on the art of community-building and the idea of creating a community front porch where people would gather resonated with Schwartz and other members of RAAC.
After some brainstorming the group concluded the way to continue to build and strengthen the Rosemount community was to be its front porch.
The arts council has signed an agreement with the city of Rosemount to provide staffing for a visitor center in the Steeple Center. RAAC members will staff the visitor center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.
Schwartz hopes that when people come to Rosemount the Steeple Center will be the first place they stop for information.
“I want it to be the one stop place to find out what’s going on in town,” said RAAC member John Loch.
What’s more, the arts council will begin to display art in the lobby of the Steeple Center. RAAC recently received a $10,000 grant from the Minnesota Regional Arts Council through Legacy Funds to put in a hanging system and lighting in the Steeple Center to do that.
In turn, the city of Rosemount will allow the arts council to use the Steeple Center for free for its various events.
“It’s a win, win,” said Loch.
RAAC coordinates a number of activities throughout the year. RAAC events include the Bluegrass Americana Festival, various author readings, Christmas at the Steeple Center, annual photo contest, a mystery dinner theater and a film festival.
One of the group’s biggest hurdles is a modest budget and the agreement would address at least facility costs for the group.
The city wins, too. The partnership will bring more attention to the city’s crown jewel, the Steeple Center, while promoting the city’s businesses and organizations.
City administrator Dwight Johnson said the addition of a visitor center fills a need in the community without any real risks. He said the partnership has the potential to make Rosemount a more vibrant place.
“All of us are very enthusiastic about it,” said Johnson.
RAAC first brought the idea to the city council in June. In the months since, RAAC has hammered out the details of the plan. Rosemount’s Front Porch will open Dec. 11. RAAC will hold a ribbon cutting for the Front Porch at 4 p.m. Dec. 13.
“We are truly delighted to do this,” said Schwartz.
Besides fulfilling some immediate community needs, the Front Porch program also moves forward a goal to turn the Steeple Center into a community arts and cultural center.
In 2004, the city commissioned a 23 member task force to come up with ideas for what to do with the former St. Joseph’s building. The commission recommended the building be turned into an arts and cultural center.
A number of the members of that task force are founding members of the Rosemount Area Arts Council. Loch said the Front Porch program brings the community one step closer to having that arts and cultural center.