‘Arts Roseville’ picking up where former council left off

The Roseville Arts Council helped launch events like Arts @the OVAL, as seen above. Now with renewed purpose, new leadership and a new name — Arts Roseville — the organization seeks to advance arts, creativity and community in Roseville. • courtesy of City of Roseville

After more than a half decade of dormancy, the Roseville Arts Council, an independent nonprofit, is making a renewed push, with new leadership and a new name.

Now called Arts Roseville, the organization has a fresh board of directors and is seeking more people from the community to become involved, says Ross Willits, one of nine new board members.

Formed in 1984, the council’s mission was to support arts initiatives and groups in the area. It worked with the City of Roseville to put together Pottery in the Garden and Sculpture in the Park, as well as Arts @the OVAL, which is now run by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. The council also helped to launch the Roseville Strings Ensemble.

Willits, a 53-year-old Roseville resident and deputy director of The O’Shaughnessy theater at St. Catherine University, says the council had been inactive for six years when in March, the former board president put out a call on social media website Nextdoor.

“Was there anybody in Roseville interested in picking up the torch?” Willits says he remembers the post reading. “A whole bunch of people responded.”

During meetings held in April, those interested in reviving the organization were brought up to speed. The former board members were long retired from their careers and, as Willits put it, had simply never replaced themselves.

With some money still left in the coffers, the arts nonprofit was essentially a turn-key organization, ready to be taken over — Willits says it’s financially stable enough to not have to charge membership dues for the first year, and maybe longer.

The new board includes visual artists and arts educators — Willits points out he’s a musician, himself — as well as people who just love the arts.

The new board’s president is Jim Dryden, who says he’s an eight-year Roseville resident and a visual artist, as well as a co-founder of Form+Content Gallery in Minneapolis and the Traffic Zone Center For Visual Arts, which is also in Minneapolis. 

New work, new logo

Though the organization’s current mailing address is City Hall, Willits says it’s not “an arm” of the City of Roseville, though board members want to have a strong relationship with the city.

Willits says the new board has been meeting since June, and formulated a straight-forward mission statement — “Advancing arts, creativity, and community in Roseville” — during a visioning session.

“It was really wonderful because there was a lot of consensus around just what Arts Roseville can be, in that we want to be as inclusive as possible,” Willits says. 

He adds the board is aware the city’s demographics are changing and that the organization wants to “serve the entire community and have members from the entire community.”

Arts Roseville is gearing up for its annual meeting in February, Willits says, and the organization has been in contact with the Roseville Library about putting together art showings at the library.

Willits says the board has discussed getting involved again with Arts @the OVAL in order to include more local art in the annual event, as well as reaching out to high school-aged people to become members or board members.

Beyond that, the board has been looking at all its options, work-wise — “a lot of these things are pie in the sky,” Willits says — and will begin to really solidify its plans next year.

As a part of its relaunch, the organization is seeking community input on its new logo. The logo should include the name Arts Roseville and reflect the group’s mission statement. 

All are welcome to submit ideas or concepts, and the board will use the community’s input in a design that will be finalized by a professional graphic artist.

Willits says the board hopes to see from community members “what Arts Roseville can mean to them, visually.”

Submissions can be sent to info@artsroseville.org or through the organization’s website, www.artsroseville.org.


Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813.

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