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LETTER TO EDITOR: Cultural Center, arts vital to community

To the editor:

The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center is one of the most innovative nonprofit organizations in Otter Tail County.

We provide exposure to local artists and bring the work of national performing and visual artists into our community. In this time of economic challenge, many nonprofit organizations throughout the region, country, and the world are suffering. We are no different, and, in fact, we are closing our doors for the entire month of January 2010 to cut costs.

Many in our community have benefited from the Cultural Center: many have learned a new skill in our art classes, fallen in love with a musical act at one of our concerts, and enjoyed viewing an exhibition of paintings in our gallery. To those who have experienced our special community space where old and young can engage in cultural activities, we thank you for your participation, and we ask you to continue your support. To those who haven't had the opportunity to participate in the Cultural Center, we'd like to meet you and learn how the Cultural Center can better serve you. Join us for a free community concert on Dec. 21. We also hope you will join us at our other free annual community events throughout the year such as the Talvijuhla winter celebration in February, the kite festival in April, and the puppet pageant in August. Details of December's concert and all the events at the Cultural Center are on our website:

The arts are a potent force for economic development and improve the educational performance of our children. The Cultural Center has been recognized as a national model for rural communities in using the arts as an economic development tool. It brings jobs, tourism dollars, and improved educational opportunities to our community. Moreover, the Cultural Center brings to our community a level of artistic engagement that is rare for rural areas.

The economic downturn makes the arts even more important, and we'd like to keep the Cultural Center strong so that we can continue to provide arts to the community. To do that, we need the community to gather together and show its support. If you believe, as we do, that the arts are an essential part of our community, then please help us keep the Cultural Center strong and vibrant as we weather the economic storms.

There are many ways to help your community arts center. You can become a member at whatever level suits your economic situation. You can do your holiday shopping in our gift shop, which is full of creative handmade gifts. You can participate in arts classes for kids and adults. You can attend our performances. You can make a donation.

Please contribute what you can. Help us keep the doors of the Cultural Center wide open for another generation.

The Board of Directors of the New York Mills

Regional Cultural Center and Artist Residency