RED WING -- A coalition of arts organizations and artists has formed the Artistic Response Team of Red Wing to sustain the arts, serve the community and support local artists during the pandemic that has shut down their normal outlets.

ART has already begun scheduling programs and activities using a video streaming platform that enables people to connect with arts entertainment and education, and at the same time maintain safe social distancing.

Five organizations are the core of ART: The Anderson Center, ArtReach, Red Wing Arts, the Universal Music Center and the Sheldon Theatre.

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After putting out the word via social media, they held a public meeting on Tuesday via Zoom, a video platform that brought nearly 40 people together electronically to talk about what can be done.

Directors of four programs led the discussion: Stephanie Rogers of the Anderson Center, Anna Ostendorf of ArtReach, Emily Guida Foos of Red Wing Arts, and Mike Arturi of the University Music Center. Representative for the Sheldon will be Jennifer Staley.

Among her goals, Ostendorf said, is to “figure out the new normal.”

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Addressing the role the arts can play in Red Wing during the current shutdown, Rogers pointed out that “Artists are great problem-solvers,” which makes them “uniquely qualified to improve the quality of life.” She acknowledged a need for a significant shift to accomplish that goal.

Foos expanded on the goals, calling for developing creative programs, keeping the arts a vital part of the community, supporting artists by serving as a resource, and building regional recognition of Red Wing as a leader in arts and culture.

Virtual streaming “is becoming the way of the world,” Arturi noted. It also enables participants to put their ideas together, such as combining music or the spoken word with the act of painting.

“It’s an opportunity to shift gears,” he said, citing the tremendous educational opportunities created by making that paradigm shift in the way things are done. “We can share what we have learned with others,” he said, and use creative collaborations to reach the entire community.

Arturi cautioned, “Things are going to be different even when we get back to normal.”

Local resource

Citing Red Wing Arts’ commitment to supporting artists, Foos talked about programming that looks to the future: “How are things going to be done?”

ART can be an important local resource for them, she said – mitigating emergency needs, teaching computer and other skills, helping artists learn to be competitive in the economic world, and helping them develop the tools they need today.

ART’s first scheduled activity was a “skill sharing” workshop at 11 a.m. Friday (zoom.us/j/801433387) by Lindsey Cherek, a visual artist with a studio at the Anderson Center.

“She uses social media,” Rogers said, and offered to talk about how to open a new revenue stream by using tools such as Facebook.

Red Wing Arts plans to stream its monthly ARTspeak activity on Tuesday, Foos said. Representatives of Springboard for the Arts will talk about what’s happening at the state level and additional topics related to professional development of artists.

The first program aimed at the community at large will be a collaboration involving ArtReach and the Universal Music Center. “We want to get the public engaged and build relationships,” Rogers said.

Ostendorf will lead a video workshop on how children (of all ages) can create their own percussion instruments at home. Then Arturi will lead a drum circle in which participants can all contribute to making a cohesive sound.

“We can’t sit in a circle,” Arturi said. “If we can’t be in one room, we’ll schedule a time and all play virtually.” A nice thing about that, he added, is that an unlimited number of people can participate.

Others who joined the conversation electronically had questions and suggestions. Some offered to share their skills via workshops. Some wanted to know what will happen with scheduled art shows, and whether it would be possible to offer artwork online.

It’s too early in the process to answer all the questions, Foos said, assuring them that “We want to take your ideas” and find creative solutions to the problems artists are facing right now. “It will be really healing for us as a group.”

The core group is beginning work on a schedule of activities that could range from artist workshops and virtual tours to studio chats and question-answer sessions – and even lessons on how to join Instagram.

“This could be one of the silver linings,” Ostendorf said. Engaging people in the arts and helping parents find things for their kids to do can result in “better supporters, people who are more engaged in the arts.”

Mayor Sean Dowse, a member of the Minnesota State Arts Board, broached one other vital topic: funding. That board will meet April 8 to “figure out how to get everybody through this,” he said – artists and arts organizations. “It’s important to get this work funded somehow.”

Dowse told the ART organizers, “What you are working on is part of the answer.”

To connect with ART, people can reach out to any of the organizing groups.

“We are still working on technical aspects,” Rogers said, but they want artists to know “We are thinking of you, and want audiences to know we’re still here.”

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