“Wildly Unexpected!”—The Perfect Motto for Edge Center for the Arts

TU Dance artistic director and eduge staff in gallery at post-performance reception

Who could expect a $2.2 million stage and art gallery located in a northern Minnesota town of Bigfork’s size, population 369? And who could imagine that the arts center’s quality programming engages regional audiences and all 280 students? The 2010-11 schedule features a recent residency by TU Dance, a current exhibit of “This Is Displacement: Native Artists Consider the Relationship Between Land & Identity,” and an upcoming production of the Pulitzer-prizewinning drama, Wit.

A school superintendent seeking more student arts education and area advocates with extensive arts background were Edge Center’s “vision-makers.” Patty Feld, founding Artistic Director, explains: “Many in our community had never experienced the arts live. To delight and challenge, we’ve always provided the best.” After inception in 1996, Edge offered performances and art shows in various locations until a facility was built in 2005.

Another unexpected aspect of Edge –– that everyone involved is a volunteer –– led to the present goal: a paid administrator and central office. Although seemingly modest, in reality, it’s “a substantial dream to improve community access and organizational stability,” as Patty conveyed through a curtain speech before an Edge Wild Players production. Inspired, a cast member donated a three-year match for other support, including from ArtsLab. By enabling volunteers, including the Artistic Director and the Gallery Manager, to cease secretarial tasks and use their best gifts for the organization, this new infrastructure will sustain programming quality that’s now an expected hallmark of Edge.