Carver County has never lacked for artists and people interested in the arts, but in the last few years an upsurge of interest locally has supported the efforts of a growing number of people who want to bring artists, learners and art appreciators together. The Arts Consortium of Carver County is here to help that happen. “The Arts Consortium is an umbrella for the arts and artists in our community,” says one of the Consortium’s founders and Vice President, Mary Erickson. “In 2009 Chaska Valley Family Theater came to [District 112 Community Education] and wanted to have a play in the Chanhassen High School auditorium. We struck up a relationship and we realized that there were a lot of artists in this area and a tremendous amount of talent.”
After a great deal of research and groundwork, the consortium was ready to play its role. “We are a connector,” Erickson says. “We give them opportunities to share their art, and sell their art. Our role primarily is to give them opportunities to be professionals.”
In addition to supporting local arts events, the consortium does host one annual event to bring artists together. In August, Art Stock will bring the community together at the Parley Lake Winery to enjoy art, wine, music and nature.
The consortium, as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, can also act as a fiscal agent for arts groups that want to apply for grants for events, such as art wanders. But raising money for itself is not the consortium’s goal, Erickson says. “This organization is not about building capital; it is about building people and relationship-building,” she says. “The focus is bringing like-minded people together to support the community. We are still in the outreach phase; we need partnerships to bring awareness on every level, but people who care come out of the woodwork.”
While this is an advantage to the artists themselves, the community also wins. Founded by members of the business and education communities, and with a board that includes representatives from various art genres, civic organizations and media, the consortium has established itself as a resource. “We are starting to get calls now,” Erickson says. “We were called by a citizen who said they thought we should do something with the Chanhassen library garage. We got a call for public art for the Chanhassen Recreation Center. The Watertown Area Fine Arts Council called for support for their jazz event. We are starting to connect artists with the public, and each other.”
Barb Hone, consortium secretary and chronicler of local artists in her “Pillar of the Arts” columns in the Chaska Herald, says that the organization helps on a personal level, too. “A family who moved into Norwood Young America had a young daughter who was really interested in arts and theater and they called us to find out what was available. We were able to give them names, places and contacts,” she says.
This kind of enrichment opportunity makes the community a more desirable place to live. “Art is quality of life,” Erickson says. “Having organized arts helps put Carver County on the map.”
It is fitting that the consortium originated out of a partnership with a theatre company and the schools. “We have reached out to artists who are members of the community to act as mentors and jurors for student projects,” Erickson says. “They have struck up a wonderful relationship [with students and teachers.] Teaching children to be creative thinkers and problem solvers…well, that is what art does—they need that skill no matter what they do. It moves them.”
Connect with the local arts community at artsofcarvercounty.org or by calling 952.556.6186.
Don’t miss the second annual Art Stock from 2-7 p.m. on Saturday, August 4 at Parley Lake Winery, 8350 Parley Lake Rd., Waconia.