Jan 5, 2016

Artspace Consulting working to ensure future health of Duluth Art Institute

Artspace Consulting is currently working with the Duluth Art Institute (DAI), located in Duluth, Minnesota, to help them assess their current space usage and make decisions about the future of their facilities. Anna Growcott and Lucas Koski traveled to Duluth in December to meet with the staff, the board and key stakeholders of DAI's community to help dig through the history, finances and implications of its place in the Duluth art community.

DAI was founded more than 100 years ago. Its current mission is to enrich daily life with dynamic, innovative visual arts programming that upholds excellence and promotes community participation.  After decades of bouncing around between storefronts, home residences and churches, in 1975 DAI found a home at the historic St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center, also known as "the Depot."  Here DAI built a foundation on which to carry out its mission, helping to greatly increase the visibility and vitality of the arts in northeast Minnesota. In 1992, DAI had the opportunity to extend its mission's reach by purchasing an old Carnegie Library in the underserved community of Lincoln Park, creating a new home to gather and connect practitioners of the arts.  

Today, DAI is no longer experiencing the same advantages of co-location that it once had at the Depot, nor is it enjoying the advantages of ownership in Lincoln Park that it had envisioned when it purchased the building. At the Depot, it is a challenge to create a distinct identity and complete user experience while tucked away in a large multi-tenant center. At the building in Lincoln Park, the rigors of repairing and maintaining a historic building have diverted time and energy away from their fantastic programming. These new realities have pushed DAI to look critically at its current situation, and examine steps it must take to remain a viable and healthy asset in Duluth's arts scene.

It is the Artspace Consulting team's job, along with the leadership of the DAI, to unpack these challenges and opportunities in a careful manner, laying out several potential scenarios and options to help ensure the future health of the Duluth Art Institute in their service to the arts in the 21st century.