When Melissa Ketchum moved to Mankato from Denver, she was immediately impressed by the vibrant art community. “The potential for this community is endless,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what unfolds.”
Ketchum, who makes some of her living as a gallery coordinator for a local company, is an artist herself, specializing in wedding makeup and fashion.
A Quick Start
Working from an increasing consensus that Mankato is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing art centers in Minnesota, she set out to find a way to strengthen the connections between individuals and groups working in all the various arts.
“For the most part, everyone was doing their own thing,” Ketchum said. “I wanted to get people working together, to connect the dots. All of us in the artistic community are really working towards the same goals.”
Ketchum floated her thoughts about increased collaboration and the idea for a formal group was well received gaining traction quickly. Twin Rivers Council for the Arts became the parent for the fledgling team.
Twin Rivers Movers + Shakers officially launched in May 2018 and held their first meeting in June with the topic, The Art of Insurance.
The group was formed with this mission, “…we facilitate monthly networking events that are curated for artists & creatives. These events are designed to connect one another through community, collaboration, and personal and professional development. Our goal is to work together to achieve the common goal of promoting and uplifting the arts within our community. Each event will focus on either a creative activity, discussion, or topics of interest related to our theme of Connect. Create. Cultivate.”
Connect. Create. Cultivate
Connecting, creating and cultivating is exactly what they’ve been up to.
In October, the group sponsored their first large event. Sunday Art Social, hosted by Red Rocks, was “a collaborative community art experience designed to celebrate our thriving creative community and its supporters.” The event featured the work of local artists, performers and even local shops. “The event was very well received,” Ketchum said. “Because we moved it from our normal location we met our goal of greater exposure and reaching new people.”
“What I appreciate about this group is that we have been able to form connections that have eventually turned into friendships!”
Some of their more recent events have included Stories of Healing Through the Arts and Mindful Movement + Meditation for Creativity.
The Movers + Shakers team consists of Twin Rivers affiliates, artists and creatives who assist in the planning of the events. “These people include Noelle Lawton, Jacob Bases, Willis Stout, Brittney Wagner, Liz Stensland, David Gadberry, Jill Fischer, Betty Harsma, Kayla Rossiter, Jessica Roemhildt, Ray Smart and Gina Anderson,” Ketchum said.
“Our events are planned on a volunteer basis! That means the people creating them are passionate about what they’re doing, and they want to see our arts community grow!”
When asked what is most important to her about the group, she emphasized the relationships. “What I appreciate about this group is that we have been able to form connections that have eventually turned into friendships,” she said. “It’s helped bring our community together even more.”
The future is bright for Mankato as a center for the arts in Minnesota. In 2019, Movers + Shakers plans to move from monthly events to hosting larger quarterly events with emphasis on one large annual event.
“We will encourage more collaboration among the community and artists,” Ketchum said. “We’ll work to keep connecting people and cultivating an environment in which the arts can thrive.”
Twin Rivers Movers + Shakers has a Facebook Group that anyone can join upon request.