D.ART.Co.’s new website, dartco.org.,offers details on mission, membership and resources; and, most importantly, it acts as a platform for members to network and gain exposure through an artist directory, regular arts updates,and outreach opportunities.
D.ART.Co.’s new website, dartco.org.,offers details on mission, membership and resources; and, most importantly, it acts as a platform for members to network and gain exposure through an artist directory, regular arts updates,and outreach opportunities.
The Driftless Art Collective (D.ART.Co.) invites the public to its Brainstorming Party and Membership Drive Saturday, Feb. 2, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Decorah Elk's Lodge, 402 W. Main St.

The party is free and open to everyone.

Party-goers will have the opportunity to share their ideas while joining in on several fun and interactive stations - from making thinking caps to contributing to a giant brainstorming mural to doing the cupcake walk.

The party marks an official kick-off for the D.Art Co. 2013 membership drive.

Membership is open to the public - you don't need to be an artist to support the organization, and the benefits of membership are not exclusively for artists; it is a great way to keep up with arts and events in the region.

About D.ART.Co.

The Driftless Art Collective, or D.Art Co. (formerly Decorah Regional Arts Council), was founded in 1978 and rebranded in late 2010. The collective has expanded from just the Decorah area to now cover the Driftless Region's Tri-State area - Northeast Iowa, Southeast Minnesota and Southwest Wisconsin.

Its mission focuses on community building, enabling its members to network, foster partnerships,and create stronger art-related events, cultural activities, and educational opportunities in te region.

In addition to being a membership organization, D.Art Co. operates as a fiscal sponsor for eligible groups in the region (interested groups can apply for sponsorship online at dartco.org).

Current projects include ArtHaus, the Oneota Film Festival,and Water Street Music Series.

"Working under our fiscal sponsorship, these organizations are able to accept tax-deductible contributions and donations without becoming a non-profit themselves," says Henning Nichols. "We basically act as a non-profit umbrella, making it easier for organizers to take the step from idea to reality. And if or when they're ready, they can branch off to form their own non-profit, just as our current project, ArtHaus, is doing.

It's so exciting to see these initiative grow and thrive and make the area a better place to live."

A conversation with Aryn Henning-Nichols, D.ART.Co. president

Tell us about the brainstorming party coming up this weekend - who is invited, and what can they expect to be doing?

EVERYONE is invited. The Brainstorming Party is going to be so fun. We're making thinking caps and there's this giant brainstorming mural that we want folks to draw on, crawl on and most importantly write their ideas on. It'll be in the middle of the Lodge Room at the Elk's.

And - I'm so excited about this - there's going to be a cupcake walk for brain cupcakes made by Pinter's. It reminds me of carnivals I used to go to when I was in school.

All around the lodge we'll have napkins and pens in case people have great ideas they need to write down right away, too; and there will be other "brainy" snacks to munch on. It's totally kid friendly, but adults will have a good time too (don't forget about the cash bar).

And, of course, we'll have lots of information about becoming a member of D.Art Co., folks can even sign up that night.

As president, what are your hopes for the organization in the coming year?

I hope we see a lot of new members, the website becomes THE place for people to learn more about upcoming arts events, area artists and other fun arts things, and that we see some great new applicants for our fiscal sponsorship program. There are so many people with so many great ideas, and we want to help them get things off the ground.

Why do artists need an organization like this?

I like to think of it as kind of a chamber of commerce for artists - we want to help artists get their business out there to grow and thrive. A lot of artists don't have a brick and mortar location and so it's difficult to gain exposure. We want to help through our website and other networking avenues.

Why does a community need an organization like this?

The arts are important to everyone. Not just because it's fulfilling for a community to be able to enjoy, offer and foster arts events and artists, but because arts and art-related events bring in tourism and tourism equals more dollars for everyone in the area.

What else would you like us to know about D.Art Co. and/or about the event this weekend?

We hope folks at the very least come to check things out and get a little creative this Saturday.

We'd love to have everyone become a member, of course; but even if that's not in the cards, we'd hope for party-goers to get to know more about us ... and tell their friends.