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New Alexandria arts collaboration forms

Supporters of the group will have a booth at this weekend's Art in the Park at Alexandria City Park.

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ALEXANDRIA — Alexandria has a very vibrant arts scene with numerous arts-related organizations. But, each of those organization works independently of each other without much collaboration among the other groups.

Until now.

Earlier this year a new group was formed – The Arts Collaborative – that encompasses 10 different organizations including the following:

Jim Pence and Katy Niemeyer, participants of the new group and supporters of area arts, are working on promoting the new group.

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Jim Pence

“The whole idea is to come together to tell the story about the value of arts in Alexandria and to help a broader audience understand who we are and what we do,” said Pence, who is the president of the board of directors for Theatre L’Homme Dieu. “It’s a really diverse list of organizations with theater and music and more.”

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He explained that the idea to form the group began earlier this year when he was talking with Miriam Svobodny, who is also on the board for Theatre L’Homme Dieu. They met with Tara Bitzan, executive director of the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and asked her to organize a meeting – an arts roundtable – to discuss the business of the arts, said Pence.

Each of the 10 organizations were represented at the meeting, which took place on May 18.

Pence said they talked about what the group would look like and what its purpose was.

“This is a grassroots organization and everyone has some skin in the game,” said Pence. “We just want to tell the story of the value and the impact of the arts.”

Christine Reilly, who is now the executive director of the Andria Theatre, offered space for the new group at Art in the Park, which takes place this weekend — Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31.

The annual event will take place Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31.

Members of the different organizations will be taking shifts at the booth to answer questions the public may have about the arts.

Niemeyer, who recently graduated from Minnesota State University-Moorhead with a dual arts degree, is putting together information from each organization to have on hand during the event. She is also putting together digital information that will be able to be accessed through a QR code people scan with their phones.

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Katy Niemeyer

Additionally, Niemeyer is creating a slideshow with info and photos from each of the 10 organizations that will be running throughout the two-day Art in the Park event.

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“We’re pretty excited about what the possibilities are,” said Pence about the newly formed group. “But the first step was to do something together and Christine’s generosity made it possible for us to do something.”

Pence said the group knew they were going to need help organizing the event and that’s where Niemeyer jumped in to help. She has basically been in charge of information gathering and getting everything ready for the event.

Both Niemeyer and Pence are excited for this weekend’s Art in the Park, as well as what lies ahead for The Arts Collaborative. They both also extended huge thank yous to Bitzan for being such a supporter of the arts, for being at the forefront of getting the organization started and now passing the torch onto the members of the group.

“This organization gives credit to Tara (Bitzan) for her leadership and encouragement. She got us and understood us,” said Pence, with Niemeyer adding, “I think she deserves all the recognition in the world.”

To learn more about the organization, check out the booth at this weekend’s Art in the Park (See related story) .

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects lead and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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