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Duluth Art Institute

Featured Grant12/12/16

Arts access and education in Greater Minnesota


The Duluth Art Institute strengthens the arts community of Northern Minnesota through exhibitions and hands-on learning. Their Lincoln Building provides an artistic outlet and educational opportunities for Minnesotans of all ages.

After a major storm in the spring of 2014 revealed much-needed roof repairs, the Institute sought emergency assistance to ensure construction could be completed before winter arrived. They turned to Mardag Foundation for funding to repair the historic building.

“All of our ceramics studios and the multi-purpose space where we hold educational programming were affected. We have artists who make a living off their ceramics work, and our educational programs for children and adults couldn’t happen without a roof and safely heated space,” said Anne Dugan, executive director.

Since the new roof was put in place, the Institute has increased the number of ceramics studios from 26 to 40, giving local artists increased access to the resources they need to create.

Additional programming in the space includes summer camps for students in Kindergarten all the way through high school, adult education classes in painting and drawing, free family days to introduce people of all ages to the arts and a Big Art for Littles program that exposes children aged 3-6 to art, making it a vital community center for artistic expression.

But The Lincoln Building is more than just an arts center, it’s a community hub. Lincoln Park, the neighborhood in Duluth this building calls home, has historically seen more economic hardship than other areas of the city. But Institute leadership and access to the arts have helped forge a community identity, and the Lincoln Building is now finding an increased presence within the new Craft District movement, which includes a popular craft brewery, a leatherworks shop and other local businesses.

“I think that a community’s ability to have its own voice and tell its own stories is vital to its basic existence and how it connects with its own citizens and the people beyond. As Duluth, we really need to celebrate the unique local voices we have here. The arts are a mirror that reflects back on our community – it helps us understand who we are,” said Dugan.