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Tracy Frank, Published July 31 2012

Arts advocate awarded for efforts

FARGO – Dawn Morgan is a bit like a fairy godmother.

From the beautiful and serene Spirit Room in downtown Fargo, surrounded by vibrant colors and dazzling images, Morgan helps make people’s dreams come true.

But instead of wielding a magic wand, she does it through grants and opportunities.

“Our mission is to enrich people’s lives through creative, contemplative and healing arts,” she said. “We’re open to the ideas of people who bring their dreams to us.”

Morgan is executive director of the Spirit Room, a nonprofit arts and humanities organization she established in 1997.

The facility, at 111 Broadway in downtown Fargo, displays original artwork and hosts events like concerts, spiritual discussions and art exhibits.

“I’m really an advocate of artists of every type in the community,” Morgan said. “Visual artists, literary artists, dance and theater, we have all of those things here in the Spirit Room.”

In addition to working with successful, established artists, the Spirit Room also works with fledgling artists to help them develop their projects, get the supplies they need and hold an exhibit so artists can showcase their work, Morgan said.

“Given opportunities, people can develop into who they want to be,” she said. “The best thing possible is to feel that you’re really investing in yourself and your community and your friends and your family rather than having to take a job just to survive.”

A weekly schedule of classes like yoga, meditation and dance are held at the Spirit Room to help support the facility.

Morgan, who specialized in the design of historic residential and commercial properties before becoming executive director of the Spirit Room, redeveloped the site in a historic building in downtown Fargo that had been abandoned for 30 years.

The organization received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in August 2004 as an educational organization.

The Spirit Room recently expanded to house three galleries and studios for local artists.

“It’s really nice to think of us as this small grass-roots organization that just started with volunteers and we’ve gotten to the point now where we’re collaborating with all of the major arts organizations in town,” Morgan said.

Morgan also serves on several boards throughout the community. She is president of the board of directors for Nordic Culture Clubs, which hosts the annual Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival; is a founding board member of FM Visual Artists, which presents the Studio Crawl each October; is past president of the Fargo Moorhead Heritage Society, an architectural preservation organization; served on the Historic Preservation Commission with the city of Fargo for nine years; and is current president of the Jefferson Area Neighborhood Association, which she helped form in 2005.

Morgan has also served on the board of directors at the Fargo Public Library, is a founding board member of Nordic Arts Alliance, a Scandinavian arts organization, and published the Shining Times, a free literary publication.

As a certified yoga instructor, Morgan teaches yoga classes at the Spirit Room and credit classes for North Dakota State University. She is also a meditation instructor and has led a meditation session at the Spirit Room for the past 15 years.

Morgan was recently awarded the 2012 Arts Advocate Leader of the Year Award by The Arts Partnership for her efforts.

The Arts Partnership (formerly the Lake Agassiz Arts Council) is an arts organization that re-grants funds from the cities of Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead, the North Dakota Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Nearly 80 arts organizations in the Fargo-Moorhead area are members of The Arts Partnership.