Red Wing Arts (RWA) is a nonprofit organization that promotes the arts in the Red Wing community and throughout the region. It started as an interactive arts education program, and has grown into a bastion of creativity in the Midwest. Its goal is to bring art into the conversations, environment, and economy of the community. Each year, Red Wing Arts supports over 350 artists in their gallery and at their festivals, with over 30,000 visitors enjoying their free events and exhibits.
Executive Director, Emily Guida Foos, has been with the organization for over 15 years, becoming the E.D. in 2018. She has played a vital role in Red Wing Art’s transition to bringing art outside the immediate physical space of the gallery and growing the economic impact of the arts throughout the community
Red Wing Arts has been a part of Emily’s family for many years. Her father, Dan Guida, was Director for 14 years before Emily. She holds many fond family memories of participating in the annual events. Now, it’s a part of her daughter’s life.
“Plein Air is my favorite event we host, it was my Dad’s passion as well. We have artists paint the town in the open air which is literally what Plein Air means. It’s always an incredible experience. We are in our 15th year and I now get to watch my daughter painting next to all the other artists,” says Emily. “It’s so cool to have a pictorial documentation of the town at a specific time.”
RWA is passionate about growing appreciation of the arts in the community, whether that is through a concert in the park or something simple like their Treasures on the Trail campaign for Earth Day where people paint rocks and leave them around for others to find.
“Our goal is to be a community fueled by arts, one alive with creativity. We make Red Wing livable and desirable by creating an environment that provides a canvas for emerging and professional artists to grow,” says Emily. “When you look at planning a concert in the park, it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s amazing what one night can mean to a community.”
Their mission also makes a powerful impact on the community’s economy by drawing visitors to Red Wing, MN. “We want to have something iconic, like the big cherry in the spoon at Walker Arts Center, it’s so instantly recognizable.” While they don’t have that yet, the future is bright.
Art creates a conversation point. People can experience something together. Creative expression and shared experiences, that is the goal of RWA. “It’s color and emotion and that means something. You and I, who might not have anything in common, can experience the exact same thing in that moment.”
Red Wing Arts is a non-profit partner of Spave(R) called a Spave Fave. What is a Spave Fave? They are nonprofits who have been helping us with testing, research, and figuring out how we can work together to make the world better one transaction at a time. They are featured prominently on our app, which brings more eyes to their mission.
“For nonprofits, it’s often difficult to work on development and for small nonprofits especially, having a partner in the fundraising and donations world means everything to us. I don’t have that internally. Spave takes some of the struggle off of me.”
Always looking for new ways to engage the community through visual, performing, and literary arts, RWA looks forward. “We try to program the concert in the park series to represent our city’s population. Finding different groups that reflect who our audience is and who we want to grow our audience into.”
They hope to move into teaching art classes and while COVID-19 has pushed back plans for the teaching model, Emily is optimistic for the future. “At one point in its life, teaching art was part of the DNA of Red Wing Arts,” says Emily. “We will get back to our roots. Until then, we will continue to serve the artists and members of the community.”
You can experience RWA by attending their Concert in the Park series this summer, participating in Plein Air this June, or by joining many other of their calendared events. Experience the historic natural beauty of Red Wing, MN this summer!
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