RED WING -- The City Council wrapped-up a platter of loose ends during its final meeting of 2019. The one item to receive cheers from the audience Monday, Dec. 9, was the council’s approval of the Arts and Culture Task Force's recommendation to establish an arts and culture commission.

Red Wing’s 2040 Plan highlights the importance of art within the city and led to the creation of the Arts and Culture Task Force. This group of 22 individuals met four times and decided that the best way to promote art in the region, both now and in the future, would be through a commission.

Megan Tsui, the president of Downtown Main Street, told the council:

“I believe this council has made arts and culture a priority,” before going on to explain that there may be city councils in the future that do not share the values held by current elected leaders. The best way to ensure that arts organizations continue to have a voice at the city level would be to create a commission.

Tsui stressed that an official commission would not dictate what art looks like in the city. She explained the plan is “not a top-down group that will tell others what to do; rather a commission to work with and support policy, initiatives and ensure inclusiveness.”

The council voted 6-0 to approve the recommendation; Councilor John Becker was sick and unable to attend the meeting. The next step will be to draft an ordinance, which will appear before the council in early 2020.

The arts and culture commission

The exact powers and duties of the arts and culture commission will be defined when the commission is officially established. However, the task force created a preliminary list that includes:

  • Support and advocate for arts and culture by demonstrating how the city and region are better when these things are a part of the community.

  • Create and recommend plans focused on arts and culture for the City Council’s consideration.

  • Advise the council and other boards and commissions on matters of public policy that would advance the city’s goal to create a place where the arts and culture flourish.

  • Work to ensure that art and culture are represented in city projects and policies.

  • Work to develop procedures to streamline the process of permitting arts and culture events, programs and projects in the city.

  • Cultivate public/private partnerships with a focus on arts and culture.

  • Foster initiatives and forums that provide information about arts and culture issues and initiatives.

  • Offer recommendations on art -- public, community place-making, and the built environment -- to the council.

  • Ensure a diversity of voices is included in arts and culture projects.

  • Work to enhance the perception of Red Wing’s identity and quality of life in the community and beyond.

The plan is to seat nine members on the commission with up to two voting members from Goodhue County or Pierce County and one non-voting student member.

The task force recommended that the student be a voting member, but the city’s current policy is that students cannot vote on boards and commissions. This is something that can be discussed in the future.

The council did approve of the task force’s recommendation that a part-time staff liaison be hired for the first year of the commission to help get it organized and off the ground. The city had budgeted $5,000 for the task force and will add an additional $15,800 from the 2019 City Contingency to be used in 2020 once the commission is established.

Mayor Sean Dowse, an advocate of the arts, Anderson Center board member and former Sheldon Theatre executive director, will be tasked with identifying the nine members of the commission. With 22 people on the task force alone, the council joked that he will have to fight off all those wanting to be on the commission.

Once the vote was taken, Dowse told the council: “This is a huge step tonight. Thank you for your vision for Red Wing.”