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Legacy funding goes to local arts groups

National and state grants will enable the Sheldon Theatre to further develop the Sheldon School of Performing Arts and to bring new programs to Red Wing.

Legacy fund grants also have been awarded to Red Wing's other key arts organizations - the Anderson Center at Tower View and the Red Wing Arts Association.

The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded the Sheldon $10,000 for an after-school program including theater and dance classes, Sheldon Executive Director Sean Dowse reported.

The program, based at Burnside Elementary and Twin Bluff Middle School, will involve up to 80 students, he said.

The classes will offer a taste of the performance experience to give young people a sense of whether they would like to pursue theater or dance in greater depth.

Julie Martin, director of the Sheldon School, will lead the program in cooperation with Dawn Anderson, dance instructor.

The Red Wing program was asked to apply for the Arts Education Invitational Grants Initiative program "on the strength of our past," Dowse said.

"We have a good history with the NEA," he explained, citing other successful projects including the construction of an informational kiosk and a joint "Tuesdays with Morrie" project with Fairview Red Wing Medical Center.

The Minnesota State Arts Board made three awards to the Sheldon for 2011-12, Dowse reported - $7,840 in formula funding for operations and $8,500 in merit funding, plus a supplemental grant of $23,351 from the arts and cultural heritage - legacy fund - program.

The state agency provides funds through its Institutional Presenters Grant Program every two years, Dowse said.

Last year Gov. Pawlenty cut the Arts Board's funding, which in turn reduced the expected payment to the Sheldon by $16,000. The amount for the coming biennium is at that lower level again.

The legacy money can be used for projects that involve new initiatives, Dowse said. That will include shows that have not been presented here in the past, such as the Rhythmic Circus that is booked for February.

The funds also are being spent to assist the Sheldon's outreach and services to audiences, such as new microphones and software.

Several additional grants are pending. Dowse is hopeful the Sheldon will again receive support from the Xcel Energy Foundation, which has granted $5,000 annually for the past several years to help keep the cost of admission to children's shows at $6 per student.

Also in the works is an application to the Southern Minnesota Initiative Fund for a program that would involve taking on two Red Wing High School students as technical assistants; and a request from Fairview Red Wing Medical Center to the Southeast Minnesota Arts Council for funding for a new series of Friday concerts at the hospital that are arranged by the Sheldon.

On another front, Dowse said the city of Red Wing is seeking capital funds from the Minnesota State Historical Society to finance work on the historic theater. "We have some critical building issues that need to be addressed," he said.

@Sub heads:Other organizations

@Normal1: The arts association just received word that it was awarded a legacy grant of $11,200 for the Plein Air Art Festival to be held the last weekend in June 2011, Director Dan Guida reported.

He also is seeking funds to bring a play to the summer Concert in the Park Series held in the Central Park Band Shell. If awarded, the grant would bring in a touring Minnesota group.

The Anderson Center has received two recent grants, Director Robert Hedin said.

The larger award, $18,396, came through the same Minnesota State Arts Board program that benefited the Sheldon. Those funds will go toward general operations.

The center also received a $1,350 legacy grant to help promote attendance by Hispanic families at the fall Celebration of Minnesota Children's Authors and Illustrators.

Working collaboratively with Hispanic Outreach of Goodhue County,Hedin said, the center was able to prepare all promotional materials in Spanish as well as in English, and to have a selection of Spanish books and a Hispanic Outreach booth.

Other than the institutional support grants through the State Arts Board, most legacy funding is going to specific projects, Hedin noted.

"My respect for the legacy funding is so high," he said. "It's going to be absolutely essential for generations to come. I am hoping other states will look to Minnesota" to do the same.

Voters approved a slight tax increase in November 2008 to generate funds for arts and cultural heritage activities along with clean water, the outdoors, parks and trails.