Lanesboro Arts

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Organizational History

A 40 year legacy supporting art and artists in the Lanesboro area.


Lanesboro Arts began its journey in 1980 with the creation of the Lanesboro Art Council. The Lanesboro Art Council started Lanesboro’s annual Art in the Park festival and also assumed ownership of the St. Mane Theatre, bringing performances and films to the previously dormant space. As the Root River State Bike Trail opened and the town began to revitalize, the establishment of the Commonweal Theatre Company in 1989 was aided by the Lanesboro Art Council, with the company performing in the St. Mane Theatre well into the 2000’s.

In 1993, the Cornucopia Art Center opened in an old factory window to provide artists with a gallery space to present their art and serve as a hub for the art community in Lanesboro and the surrounding area. By 1996, when Lanesboro was listed as one of “The 100 Best Art Towns in America,” Cornucopia Art Center had moved into the organization’s current building at 103 Parkway Avenue North and was bustling with activity.

The Merger

In 2007, the Commonweal Theatre Company moved into a brand new theatre facility, leaving the Lanesboro Art Council as the primary presenter of events at the St. Mane Theatre. Not long after Commonweal’s move, Lanesboro Art Council and Cornucopia Art Center began to discuss the possibility of merging organizations to better serve the Lanesboro community.

At each of their membership meetings on Sunday, March 29, 2009, members of the Cornucopia Art Center and of the Lanesboro Art Council unanimously voted ‘yes‘ for a merger between the two organizations. Now one organization called the Lanesboro Art Center, programs such as the Juried Sales Art Gallery, the Exhibition Gallery, the St. Mane performance series, and Art in the Park continued in service of fulfilling the mission of the new organization (created by combining mission statements of the CAC and LAC): “The Lanesboro Arts Center serves as a regional catalyst for artistic excellence and educational development in providing diverse art experiences for people of all ages.”

Arts Campus

In 2011, the planning process and capital campaign for the Lanesboro Arts Campus was launched. This on-going initiative engaged the community in a wide-range of public forums and surveys, identifying several parallel goals for the organization and the City of Lanesboro. The Lanesboro Arts Campus is a layered and memorable arts experience integrated into the fabric of Lanesboro that builds on, and is designed to enhance and connect, existing assets—the river, scenery, recreation, history, and downtown—while extending art into the community. The Lanesboro Arts Campus approach and philosophy is inspired by the principles of creative placemaking, a strategy that concentrates on arts and culture to enhance community vitality and create a more engaging environment for people to live, work and visit.

In 2014, in order to better align the organization’s renewed commitment to activating the community beyond the confines of any one building, the Lanesboro Art Center was rebranded as simply Lanesboro Arts — what the organization is known as today. Later in 2014, Lanesboro Arts received the Bush Prize for Community Innovation as a result of its work developing the Lanesboro Arts Campus vision. “Lanesboro Arts has a remarkable story of innovation that is a testament to the power of inclusive, collaborative and resourceful problem-solving,” said Bush Foundation President Jennifer Ford Reedy in a press release announcing the prize.

In September of 2014, the City of Lanesboro unanimously passed a resolution declaring the entire town of Lanesboro an Arts Campus, becoming the first rural town in America to make such a declaration. In May of 2015, the organization held a small reception for cross-sector partners and capital campaign donors to reflect on and celebrate accomplishments from the initial phase of the Lanesboro Arts Campus initiative, including the Poetry Parking Lot, artful wayfinding signs installed to promote walkability and connect community spaces, historic restoration of the Gallery building facade, and the renovation of the upper level of the St. Mane Theatre that included the establishment of a Residency Center for the Lanesboro Artist Residency Program. In September 2015, the organization also received an Innovation in Planning award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Planning Association for work developing and implementing the Lanesboro Arts Campus vision plan.


Today, Lanesboro Arts is a multidisciplinary arts organization working to activate the people and places of Lanesboro by empowering and creating opportunities for artists. Some of the programs we provide in addition to our Juried Sales & Exhibition Galleries and St. Mane performance series are:

  • Lanesboro Artist Residency Program
  • Emerging Artist Exhibition
  • Art in the Park
  • ‘Over the Back Fence’ Community Variety Show
  • Juried High School Art Show
  • Summer and January Internship Program
  • Ongoing Lanesboro Arts Campus planning and initiatives
  • Artist Relocation Initiative
  • Arts education and creation activities such as Kids Create!, Surprise Sculpture and Open Studio
  • Discover Sculpture Explore Lanesboro Medallion walking tour
  • Poetry Parking Lot
  • Other cross sector collaborations such as the Youth Access Technology Project and Water/Ways through the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program

From 2018 to 2021, Lanesboro Arts was led by a collaborative leadership team consisting of current staff members. This unique and innovative decision-making process enabled each staff member to propose projects and take on significant leadership roles, optimizing individual autonomy and collective responsibility. To learn more about the collaborative leadership model, click here. In July of 2021, Lanesboro Arts resumed a traditional Executive Director model for leadership of the organization. For more information on this, click here.

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