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Published December 19 2011

Forum editorial: A vibrant community values art

Any city of consequence values and promotes public art, arts education and arts venues such as museums, galleries, symphonies and individual artists. Fargo-Moorhead is good at supporting the arts, but not necessarily because elected commissions and councils appropriate funds. Like most cities, a lively and sustainable arts sector reliess heavily on private donations from people of means and organizations focused on amenities that make urban life exciting and enriching.

Fargo has those people and organizations. The announcement last week that the Plains Art Museum has received a $300,000 donation from the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Trust is yet another confirmation that the fine arts are vital to the community. The gift will be applied to the ongoing effort to fully fund a Plains Art/Fargo School District project to expand the downtown museum into a Center for Creativity, which will carry the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum name. The center will replace and expand the schools’ Creative Arts Studio, which for many years has been located at Clara Barton Elementary School.

The new center will be an annex to the museum on First Avenue North in Fargo. A $6.2 million capital campaign has been under way for some time, and the grant and an additional $200,000 matching grant (if matched by Dec. 31) can finish off the capital campaign and trigger an $800,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation.

This is a big deal for the arts and the arts education life of Fargo and the surrounding area. The Burgum family has stepped up at precisely the right time to highlight the project and underscore the need for community support to match the $200,000.

Doug Burgum and James Burgum made the funding announcement last week. In his remarks, Doug Burgum underscored the incalculable value of creativity as “a core driver of the new global economy, and integrating art and education is part of that.” The arts are a vital element of the entrepreneurial spirit of the 21st century that comports nicely with the purposes and goals of the new center. Education is not complete without understanding of the fine arts, and together, the Plains, the schools and the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Trust have taken major steps to make the community more vibrant and more competitive in a new world.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.