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Letter: New center will affirm Bemidji's reputation for arts

The Bemidji Community Art Center (BCAC) staff and board wish to thank visitors and area residents for their support of our recent Art in the Park craft fair. We have sponsored this event every third weekend in July for the past 46 years. All booth spots were filled and entrance donations and raffle profits were up from last year, earning over $18,000. This supplements operating expenses so exhibits remain free of charge and it adds to funding reserves for our new building. We have the artists to thank for providing our raffle tent with beautiful pieces. We are also most grateful to our local volunteers and business partners for their invaluable help.

If you have visited the BCAC recently, you know that we are undergoing a name change and will soon be Watermark Art Center. Under our new name, we will be working to transform the former Lakeside Lueken's building into a premier center for the visual arts.

Watermark Art Center will be a regional showcase for distinctive exhibits and collections, a provider of educational opportunities and a unique venue for fine art events.

One of its galleries will be dedicated to Native American art.

Along with the development of the new art center, other exciting projects are on the horizon for the Renaissance Corridor in downtown Bemidji, including the restoration of the historic Carnegie Library, improvements in the adjacent Library and Paul Bunyan parks and the installation of the new Chief Bemidji statue. It is important to note that Watermark Art Center and Save the Carnegie, are two separate fundraising initiatives ­­-- one focused on creating a new art center across the street and the other on refurbishing the historic library building. Watermark Art Center is relocating from a 4,000-square-foot to a 10,000-square-foot facility to better serve our north central Minnesota counties.

A scale model of Watermark Art Center is on display at 426 Bemidji Ave. N., our current location. We encourage you to drop in, enjoy our exhibits, and ask about membership perks, workshops and other opportunities to become involved. We plan to host more events and to keep everyone informed about progress in revitalizing a prominent Bemidji corner -- gateway to the downtown. The future center will attract visitors, add vibrancy to our region and affirm our growing reputation as a destination for the arts.

Lorie Yourd

BCAC Board President