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Two grants will help grow arts, culture in New York Mills

Two recently awarded grants will help expand culture and arts in New York Mills.

One will bring the arts outdoors for the public, and another will expand the technical aspects of operating the NY Mills Regional Cultural Center.

One grant, from Lake Region Arts Council, was awarded to the city and will fund improvements to the alleyway behind the library, the cultural center, and Sugar Creek Woodworking. The project began July 1 and will continue for a year, a majority of it taking place this summer.

For this project, Pam Robinson of NY Mills will direct the creation of a mural that will be painted on the west wall of Sugar Creek Woodworking. Anyone with historical photographs that could be used as idea generators for the mural should contact the cultural center.

Painting will begin on Monday, July 23 from 8 a.m.-noon and 4-8 p.m., and will continue throughout the month of August. Anyone interested in painting is encouraged to contact the cultural center.

Tim Cassidy of NY Mills will provide metal sculptures to bring an artistic feel to the area.

The grant will also pay for four whimsical animal benches made by Patrick Kilby of Sugar Creek Woodworking. The benches will provide seating for upcoming outdoor concerts.

The deck on the back of the cultural center will also be expanded to become a performance space. Upon completion, a series of free concerts will be scheduled.

The city and cultural center plan to reapply for funding for a second year. They are also applying for a grant to bring in landscapers to increase the green area. Currently, most of the area is asphalt.

This yearlong effort is just the beginning of a process that could make an area in town that's both useful for community events and is a pleasant gathering spot.

The area that will undergo improvements hosted a number of games in accordance with Lund Mania on July 6. The upcoming puppet pageant, traditionally held during the corn feed, will also be moved to that space.

Another grant award announced last week will go to the cultural center, which was one of 15 arts organizations chosen to participate in Arts-Lab, a two-year training and mentorship program beginning this fall.

ArtsLab delivers intensive training, mentorship, and technical assistance to cultural leaders in the Midwest through peer learning courses, mentorship and distance learning.

Jamie Robertson, Betsy Roder, Elisa Korentayer and Vickie Chepulis will participate in seven weekend meetings throughout Minnesota over a two-year period, as well as a variety of webinars.