Central Minnesota Community Foundation

Group of Children



What started as an effort to create a cultural arts plan has evolved into a thriving community leadership coalition that is dedicated to creatively engaging, transforming and enhancing our community through the arts. ArtWORKS aims to achieve this by advancing the St. Cloud Community Cultural Arts Plan.

The Cultural Arts Plan was developed by the City of St. Cloud with major funding support from the McKnight Foundation. After the initial plan was approved by the City of St. Cloud, leaders of the initiative approached the Central Minnesota Community Foundation to help champion the plan's goals and serve as the fiscal host for the initiative.

The Cultural Arts Plan identified four key goals:

  1. Use Arts and Culture in support of the City’s economic development priorities.
  2. Create more coordinated and accessible arts learning opportunities for children, youth and adults.
  3. Strengthen St. Cloud’s arts groups and artists and build their capacity to attract audiences.
  4. Build stronger public and private sector leadership and funding for arts and culture.

Members of the ArtWORKS Steering Committee represent business and economic development leaders, key players from local colleges and universities, members of City government and planning departments, the Central Minnesota Community Foundation, leading arts organizations and community catalysts. CMCF continues to serve as the fiscal host.

Recent Efforts

Launch of AroundTheCloud.org

On any given week, Central Minnesotans have the opportunity to take in a fine array of arts, entertainment, and cultural activities in their community. But finding them posed a challenge—until now. The Central Minnesota Community Foundation helped launch www.aroundthecloud.org to provide a first-of-its-kind community destination for arts events in the four-county area. Users can search by area of interest, geographic location, or by date. They can click on an event, buy tickets, get directions, and see similar events they might be interested in. Mimi Bitzan, Dennis Whipple and GREAT Theater led the initial efforts and currently maintain the site. Learn more.

Measuring the local art index

St. Cloud has been selected as one of 100 Local Art Index participants in the nation.

This marks the first comprehensive study of the health and vitality of the arts at a local

level. The index will measure the community’s art identity, quantity of activities, and

participation rates and then compare them to other communities. United Arts has been leading this important initiative.

Enhancing place-making and public art

This effort aims to infuse art throughout the community to improve aesthetics, economic health, and public safety. It includes using art to highlight the heritage and character of St. Cloud neighborhoods and to enliven downtown with banner art galleries. Integrating arts and education This project, led by the City of St. Cloud and the Arts Commission, aims to strengthen arts education in area schools by showing how art can serve as a tool in a variety of academic areas and can foster social connections.

A Community Vision

There is a story that at one point in WW II, Winston Churchill’s finance minister said Britain should cut arts funding to support the war effort. Churchill’s reported response was: “Then what are we fighting for?”

A thriving local arts culture isn’t a magic wand – but we believe it is an essential tool in building the kind of community we want to live in—a place where people are connected, where diversity is celebrated, a place where the creative talents of all our children is nurtured, a place that feeds and fuels the creativity of each and every one of us.