GRAND FORKS – The North Dakota Arts Council has announced a request for proposals from artists or creative teams for a first-of-its-kind “creative placemaking” program in northeastern North Dakota.
The Arts Across the Prairie: Placemaking in Rural North Dakota program will create permanent large-scale art installations—one in each of the state’s eight geographic regions—that reflect the unique history, landscape and cultural heritage as determined by stakeholder groups countries in each region.
The art installation for Red River Region 4, consisting of Pembina, Walsh, Grand Forks and Nelson counties, will eventually be installed near Dahlen Esker, midway between Fordville and Dahlen, according to the NDCA. It is a prominent ridge that can be seen west of the point where State Highway 32 crosses the Grand Forks-Walsh County line. An esker is a long ridge of gravel or other sediment, usually having a meandering course, deposited by meltwater from a retreating glacier or ice sheet.
An artist or creative team can submit a proposal for this community-led initiative, which for Region 4 is titled Endless Sky – Dynamic Layers. Eligibility is limited to established artists with experience in large-scale outdoor installations, public art, placemaking or placemaking, community work and teaching. All applicants must reside in the contiguous United States.
Proposals must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central Time), March 27.
For more information, visit the North Dakota Council on the Arts website, www.arts.nd.gov, and click on the Programs menu.
In 2021, Region 4 business, arts, education and community leaders were recruited to serve as stakeholders to formulate a roadmap for the development of a site that would be an artistic, historic and cultural representation of the four counties.
NDCA is working with the Grafton Red River Regional Council and the Grand Forks Community Arts Commission to facilitate the Region 4 project. Beginning in late fall 2021, regional stakeholders are meeting to plan the state’s second Arts Across the Prairie’. The first project is underway in Region 1, which covers Divide, Williams and McKenzie counties in northwestern North Dakota, said Kim Konikov, NDCA executive director.
Region 4 stakeholders chose Dahlen Esker for this project because it represents the region’s “endless sky and dynamic layers—local culture, roaming buffalo, our glacial landscape of steep hills and valleys, open prairie with endless sky and stars,” according to the guidelines for NDCA Request for Proposals. Dahlen Esker is one of six locations the group is seriously considering for the art installation, according to the NDCA.
The facility’s first sod is planned for this summer, with a groundbreaking expected in late summer or fall of 2024, according to the project plan.
The 2021 North Dakota Legislature appropriated $1 million for the Arts on the Prairie program, Konikov said. The money was placed in an NDCA endowment fund, with plans to use interest from that endowment to cover the cost of maintaining the structures, she said.
The idea for the Arts Across the Prairie program grew out of a presentation on the arts as a catalyst for community change during the Fall 2019 Governor’s Main Street Initiative in Bismarck. The program aims to promote tourism and civic pride, assert the uniqueness of the place and strengthen cultural identity, according to the NDCA. It will create public-private partnerships across the country and provide a national model for this type of creative placemaking.
Arts Across the Prairie is a joint effort with the North Dakota Department of Transportation — the first in the U.S., according to the NDCA — and the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s tourism division.