Fine Arts Commission awards pandemic relief grants | Local


CARSON BABBINI Winona Daily News

The Winona Fine Arts Commission awarded seven grants at the city council meeting last week. These grants amounted to $ 500 and were awarded to “help creators and arts organizations continue their practice and operations affected by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Grants were awarded in two categories: individuals and organizations. In the individual category, Robert Armstrong, Mike Munson and Joy Davis Ripley received grants, while the organizations category was represented by ArtFarm, Our Voices, the Polish Cultural Institute in Winona and the Winona Art Center.

Armstrong is a puppeteer and entrepreneur who presents his puppet shows in Winona and has performed nationwide. Ripley is a photographer and writer whose current work highlights ‘mental health and its relation to place’. Munson is a full time musician who has been in Winona for 20 years and has released a new CD called “Let Some Light In”.

ArtFarm’s mission is to “build a vibrant community of artists and neighbors working together to improve their city and the surrounding region”. Our Voices was founded by LaShara Morgan and is an organization that was created “for black students and students of color to have a safe space where they know they matter and are supported in any way they can.”

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The Polish Cultural Institute of Winona was founded in 1976 and is a museum dedicated to the Polish heritage of Winona, with the aim of keeping it free to preserve the history of the original Polish population who “did not think qu “It was fair to charge others to see the museum’s artifacts. And the Winona Art Center was established in 1956 and hosts various exhibitions, concerts and films for the local community as well as various painting classes.

For the recipients, the grant money is certainly a needed boost due to the various effects of the pandemic. For Munson, the grant means just a bit more after his battle with COVID-19.

“I had to set aside a good two weeks from my scheduled job to play music which is all my form of income,” Munson said.

One of those concerts Munson had to cancel was his show at the Winona Art Center, which was postponed until November 22. For the WAC, the grant came at the right time.

“The art center had been closed for about 18 months, because between the pandemic and we recently installed an elevator, the center was therefore closed for construction,” said Margaret Schild, secretary and treasurer of the WAC board. . “I think we had to reintroduce ourselves into the community. We rely on membership dues, grants and donations not only to do programming, but also to keep the lights on and the heat on.

At ArtFarm, artistic director Carrie Frederich considers the grant “a great relief”.

“We kind of spent our own personal finances trying to get the necessary training and learning opportunities and things like that,” she added.

Frederich is also chairman of the Commission on Fine Arts and admitted that choosing the recipients was a very difficult process.

“We always get a lot more applications than we can fund, which is always a little heartbreaking. We received several requests that we were unable to fund, ”said Frederich. “It doesn’t mean that we weren’t going to fund specific projects, but that we were really trying to help artists or continually help artists during the pandemic, which is still happening a lot.

On an overview of the application process itself, Frederich said: “Part of this application is to demonstrate how the pandemic has affected you and your work and how this funding would help and therefore it helps to make this decision a bit more. clear when making these applications.

But if there’s one thing for sure, Frederich knows that Winona’s fine art community is “really special.”

“You can go to the Marine Art Museum and find a painting of Georgia O’Keeffe and things that you think you can only find in books or on the walls of a museum,” Frederich said. “You can find homemade paintings, sculptures or pottery, you can really find everything on the fine art spectrum in Winona and you can’t find it in a lot of places.”

“I think we’re really lucky for the size of a city that we are and you see a mix of people at different events,” Schild said of the culture and the fine arts community.

Learn more about the work of the Commission des Beaux-Arts on


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