On February 21 and 25, Connect the Grey team members had the opportunity to participate in open houses for the Mankato Arts & Culture Plan. Led by the City of Mankato, the City Center Partnership, and Twin Rivers Council for the Arts, these community listening sessions invited local residents to share their hopes for the future of the arts in Mankato.
Each session opened with a performance from local musicians Betty and Ocho. Then, participants discussed four questions in small groups before sharing ideas to the larger gathering. The conversation starters were:
- What arts and culture activities do you regularly enjoy in Mankato?
- What arts and culture activities do you regularly leave Mankato to experience?
- How can arts and culture enhance our community?
- What's your BIG IDEA for Mankato arts and culture?
Attendees discussed the value of the arts to support the local economy, to attract new residents, and to promote a shared sense of community belonging and well-being.
Participants were also encouraged to contribute an object to a Museum of Ideas on the theme of "Imagining 2027," representing a collective vision for the future of arts and culture in Mankato. Connect the Grey's Janie Hanson and Pam Coughlan shared a rock and a small tree branch, writing, "Build on the solid foundation in the community and branch out into new ideas."
The leaders of the Arts & Culture Plan process will be collecting and synthesizing the ideas, then sharing them back to the community for continued dialogue and development. If you missed the open houses, you can still visit City Center's website to share your ideas. The website also shows the schedule of follow-up focus groups being held this month, which you can attend to dig deeper on the future of arts and culture in Mankato!