Statewide Stories: Region 3 Arrowhead Regional Arts Council

Region 3: Arrowhead Regional Arts Council

by Kathy Mouacheupao, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council

You may have guessed it, I’m spotlighting the Region 3: Arrowhead Regional Arts Council (ARAC) in this issue of Statewide Stories! Arrowhead is the largest region with over 18,000 miles in the 7-county Northeast section of the state. In fact, Drew Digby, the ARAC executive director, states that, “the Arrowhead region is larger than 9 states in the U.S., and depending on where you are, some people think of it as more  urban, but when you take out Duluth – it’s more sparsely populated than any other region.”

Most people think of Duluth or the Boundary Waters when they think of the Arrowhead region, but Drew described the complex layers of the region’s landscape, culture, and industries, noting that, “There’s more agriculture than people think.. There is the boundary waters…and a lot of natural areas, but we also have five working iron ore mines… it is incredibly diverse economically. You can find whatever you are looking for.”

The Arrowhead Regional Arts Council’s mission is to facilitate and encourage local arts development. This mission statement grows from a conviction that the arts improve the quality of life in the region.

There are pockets of very small town and community art, while the number of artists working on a national scale is growing. As you can imagine, ARAC has the challenge of developing programs to serve more than a dozen arts ecosystems. They have seven grant opportunities ranging from $750-$5,000 for individuals,  and seven grant opportunities ranging from $750-$8,000 for organizations.

Arrowhead Arts Leadership Fellowship program

But, of course, ARAC is also finding ways to support the arts beyond the traditional grant programs. Specifically, they recognized the important role of BIPOC artists as leaders, and developed the Arrowhead Arts Leadership Fellowship program. The program creates an opportunity for relationship building between ARAC and an artist through a 6-9 month immersive experience.

This leadership program is for artists of color who are interested in becoming leaders in arts organizations. Participants in this highly interactive program—which includes personalized coaching—master the processes and tools required to unleash the potential in individuals, energize their teams, and empower themselves to achieve consistently higher levels of performance and deliver better bottom-line results in the arts leadership realm.

This leadership program offers a $4,000 stipend that will allow the artist to develop their leadership skills and contribute to decision making at the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council through a period of six to nine months. The Arrowhead Regional Arts Leadership Fellow will be engaged in the ARAC’s processes focusing on developing their skills within the arts organization.

When asked what he has learned through this program, Drew responded that, “humility is the most important lesson. Everybody has their own ideas about how to go forward. The most important thing is to step back, listen, and create space for people to feel safe to say what they really feel, dream and believe in.”

For more information about ARAC visit:


Images courtesy of Region 3 Arts Council:

Top: The two window paintings are part of the work by Ojibwe artist Sarah Agaton Howes called “The Center of Good Things.” ARAC commissioned the work along with the Ordean Foundation for the windows at their Duluth office building. The paintings show colorful, bright flowers and berries on a birchbark background.

Center: This is a detail of one window painting by Ojibwe artist Sarah Agaton Howes. This painting show a large blue flower with two red strawberries on a birchbark background.

Bottom: Duluth artists Moira Villiard and Carla Hamilton stand in front of Moira’s Chief Buffalo mural project (partially funded by ARAC) at Gichi-ode’ Akiing Park in Duluth. The artists are smiling, wearing sunglasses, and the mural is bright orange with lines that indicate a map.

Statewide Stories is a dedicated space for stories about the Forum of Regional Arts Councils of Minnesota, spotlighting the work of Regional Arts Councils throughout the state and sharing lessons about our equity journey.

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