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Published February 18 2012

Forum editorial: Bluestem, Trollwood vital to F-M

The situation at the Bluestem Center for the Arts, the home of Trollwood Performing Arts School, is dire but not fatal. The first step in returning the center and its tenant programs to financial security has been taken: recognition of the seriousness of the matter. The second, and vital, step has to be transparency. That is, a full and public airing of the depth of the crisis, the reasons for it and a realistic blueprint to fix it.

The public/openness aspect of the problem cannot be minimized. Trollwood is a creation of and is owned by Fargo Public Schools. Bluestem in south Moorhead operates with the imprimatur of the city of Moorhead and was built in part with significant public dollars from the state of Minnesota. Taxpayers have a major stake in the center. If it’s successful, they win. If it goes under, they lose.

Also, Bluestem owes its existence and Trollwood its long success to private benefactors who have always come through when monetary support was needed. Some of those generous patrons have adopted a wait-and-see attitude regarding their giving. They want to see a pragmatic path to solvency before extending more of their help.

As the several governments involved in the discussion seek a way to right the ship, they must not lose sight of the marvelous Bluestem concept and the rich history of Trollwood. Together they comprise an expansive vision for arts performance and education that is unique to the region and important to the overall arts education and fine arts culture of the Fargo-Moorhead community. They represent a long-standing commitment to young people and the performing arts that must not be minimized as the center and school cobble together a sustainable strategy for the future.

Given the as yet unmet commitments the programs confront, a quick fix is not the answer. It is possible Bluestem, and maybe even Trollwood, will retreat from the arts scene during a transitional/restructuring hiatus. That should be the last option, but an option, nonetheless.

Meanwhile, all discussions, options, etc. must be considered in the context of the long-term value to the community and region of the visionary Bluestem center and the extraordinarily successful Trollwood school. Preservation and enhancement of both should be the priorities.

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