St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center tells why "It's Better when we're Together"The activities of nine cultural organizations including the Duluth Art Institute, St. Louis County Historical Society, Matinee Musicale and Lake Superior Railroad Museum are all coordinated through the Heritage and Arts Center for the benefit of both residents and tourists in the Twin Ports.
By: Thomas Vaughn, for the Duluth Budgeteer News
Attending a contemporary art exhibition, searching for details in an archive, listening to a Beethoven sonata and examining the engine of a locomotive might, at first thought, appear completely unrelated.
Then, someone from the St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center tells you that the activities of nine cultural organizations including the Duluth Art Institute, St. Louis County Historical Society, Matinee Musicale and Lake Superior Railroad Museum are all coordinated through the Heritage and Arts Center for the benefit of both residents and tourists in the Twin Ports.
To bring this message to the wider community, the Depot United campaign committee has selected the theme “It’s Better when we’re Together” for this year’s fundraising campaign, which is now underway.
“The campaign is owned by all nine of the participating member organizations here at the Depot,” said Ken Buehler, fund chair and executive director of the Heritage and Arts Center, located in the Depot. “The symphony has a stake in it, the Playhouse has a stake in it, the railroad museum has a stake in it, and the group determines how the money is spent. It benefits all the organizations.”
“It’s Better when we’re Together” differs from the other fundraising campaign sponsored by the Depot Foundation. That campaign supports the longterm endowment goals of the Heritage and Arts Center.
Funds garnered by the Depot Foundation are usually distributed through grants to the nine participating organizations after a period of investment growth. Money raised under the “It’s Better when we’re Together” banner will be spent, not placed into an endowment.
“When we raise money, we’re going to spend it to do things that will benefit the community through the organizations here at the Depot,” Buehler said.
Anne Dugan is the curator at the Duluth Art Institute and oversees activities both in the Institute’s galleries at the Depot and at the Lincoln Center for Education in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.
“It’s in an old Carnegie Library. We just redid the windows, so it’s a sun-filled great room,” Dugan said. “We have a very active ceramics studio, quarterly free family days, painting, drawing and a range of high-quality classes with artist teachers who have had quite a bit of experience in their areas.”
Executive Director Kristin Duckart, now in her second week on the job at the DAI, brings 24 years of foundation management experience to her new role. She strongly believes in learning from other organizations to strengthen practices and programming for everyone.
“When organizations partner and when they collaborate and work well together, everyone benefits,” Duckart said. “I’m all about collaborative initiatives, so I encourage people to support the campaign.”
JoAnne Coombe is the executive director of the St. Louis County Historical Society.
“Campaign proceeds are distributed to the Participating Member Organizations (PMOs) and support our individual missions, and includes funding to operate the Depot building,” she said. “Operating support dollars are critical to our success. This campaign is an opportunity for people to give one gift that benefits us all.”
Campaign funds allow the Historical Society to partner with UMD to operate the Northeast Minnesota Historical Center archive, which has served 2,000 researchers yearly since 1977. Veterans Memorial Hall hosts an ever-expanding database currently holding 6,000 regional veterans’ stories from the Civil War to the present.
Matinee Musicale Treasurer Nancy Odden said that 112 years of classical music programming would not be possible without the help of campaigns such as “It’s Better when we’re Together.”
“Any funds that we get from it go towards our programming,” Odden said. “We bring four classical musicians who are up and coming, to town to perform each year.”
There’s nothing like a railroad car to promote togetherness. Tim Schandel, operations manager and curator of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, said there are various ways monies have helped the museum itself. Also benefiting is the North Shore Scenic Railroad, which offers riders the hands-on experience of local history on various excursions between Duluth and Two Harbors.
“Running the railroad from a museum standpoint offers us the opportunity to show people how the equipment that we display can be used every day and how it was used throughout the years; it's about the ability to interpret through actual use,” Schandel said. “To see how a locomotive really functions in motion is a really wonderful experience for people.”
To learn more about the “It’s Better when we’re Together” campaign, contact the St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center at www.duluthdepot.org, or call (218)727-8025.