With modern apartments above and commercial space below, Artspace in Minot is open for business. Two of three main floor occupants recently moved in. A third expects to be in operation within the next few weeks.
The four-story building at 3 South Main Street is part of a national Artspace program that seeks to bring awareness of the arts to communities all across the United States. Minot's Artspace features one, two and three bedroom apartments primarily designed to house artists. Currently open at street level is the Children's Music Academy and the Minot Area Council of the Arts.
"We love that we have an accessible location with access to street traffic so that people actually do stop in and see us and see what we're all about," said Terri Aldrich, MACA executive director. "It's very, very cool and exciting to be part of the very first new construction in downtown Minot in more than 30 years."
The Children’s Music Academy, under the direction of Denisse Cameron, has already begun holding classes at Artspace. Two classrooms are located within the academy.
The building projects a very modern appearance in what used to be the center of commercial activity in the city. Aldrich is among those who believe projects such as Artspace are good for downtown Minot and for the arts.
"I think it already has focused more attention," said Aldrich. "We have wonderful artists that are beginning to move into the building and are certainly drawing attention to the number of artists in our community and what it provides for the quality of life for our growing community. It's really important."
MACA is still settling into their new space, having made the move into Artspace shortly after Labor Day. However, even in a few weeks time, it has become readily apparent that Artspace will bring more focus on the arts than Minot has ever before experienced.
"We're happy to be here. Having an office with foot traffic and a higher visibility than we had before is going to give us a little more leverage to promote the arts within the community," said Steve Veikley, MACA programs director. "Studies show that the art's community in Minot has a $9.9 million effect annually on Minot's economy."
The most frequented area of Artspace, at least in the fledgling weeks, has been the Children's Music Academy. The academy, under the direction of Denisse Cameron, has a corner location in the new building. A classroom ringed with keyboards and chairs contains multiple windows which add greatly to the appeal.
The academy is for youths ages three to seven. According to Cameron, the space is being well utilized.
"We had a waiting list," said Cameron. "This is a basic course that emphasizes ear training, but the children also learn to read music by notes. It is a broad-based music program that instills a greater, larger musicality in the child."
The program, which requires parental participation, has proven to be a good fit for Artspace. It is also part of a national program that Cameron became familiar with during her time in Denver, which she describes as the "home base" for CMA. Cameron operated a similar academy in Rugby before making the move to Minot. She has found Artspace to be an ideal location.
"We're here on the corner of Central and Main with all this gorgeous space and windows, providing a place where the Children's Music Academy needs to be," said Cameron. "Artspace is a wonderful project, an exciting new place in Minot that is focusing on arts and music in the community, bringing a whole new space for artists and musicians to express themselves and live on the second, third and fourth floors."
An art gallery will soon occupy the remaining space on Artspace's main floor. The "Heart of the Turtle" will feature a variety of art produced by Native Americans. Joseph Marion, Turtle Mountain Tribal Arts Association executive director, is the project leader.
"This is a fantastic opportunity, a very exciting time," said Marion. "This is super exciting. The most important thing is sharing my culture with the city of Minot and the city of Minot learning who my people of the Turtle Mountains are as Native Americans."
Marion describes Native American people as being blessed with musical talent and artistic talent of all sorts. The Heart of the Turtle will display and sell Native American artwork, not only work created by the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa, but also from other locations in North Dakota.
"The beautiful thing is, we're inviting other reservations in North Dakota to be a part of this space so they too can have exposure," said Marion. "A mission of mine as director is to help artists be successful. In this building are people of all walks of life, different cultures come together. We all have different gifts and talents to share."
An exact date when the Heart of the Turtle will be open to the public has not been finalized, but the interior of the gallery is complete and some shelving is already in place. Futher displays and artwork will be moved in the location in the coming weeks. Marion says he anticipates a formal opening sometime in October.