Cloquet’s West End may be getting a makeover during the next couple years after Cloquet was recently selected for an “Artists on Main Street” grant.

The grant, announced and accepted during the Cloquet City Council meeting Dec. 3, will bring $30,000 over the next two years to integrate art into the West End business district.

Artists on Main Street is a partnership between Rethos and Springboard for the Arts exploring the intersection of art and culture, downtown revitalization and historic preservation in “Minnesota Main Street” communities.

Minnesota Main Street is a Rethos economic development program using an “asset-based strategy” to revitalize downtown districts in greater Minnesota communities, according to Cloquet Community Development Director Holly Hansen.

Cloquet was one of four communities in Minnesota selected for the grant out of 39 applications statewide. Mahnomen, Cook and Two Harbors were the other three recipients.

The Artists on Main Street program brought an outdoor performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream to Mankato. Cloquet was selected as one of four cities to participate in the program in 2020 with the aim of bringing a variety of art projects to the city's West End. (Photo courtesy of Holly Hansen)
The Artists on Main Street program brought an outdoor performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream to Mankato. Cloquet was selected as one of four cities to participate in the program in 2020 with the aim of bringing a variety of art projects to the city's West End. (Photo courtesy of Holly Hansen)

Hansen worked with Emily Swanson, executive director of the Oldenburg Arts and Cultural Community in Carlton, to submit the application. Swanson will administer the grant in Cloquet.

Since the Artists on Main Street program launched in 2018, more than 200 artists have attended “Creative Placemaking Workshops,” according to a Rethos press release, resulting in 98 projects in seven Minnesota communities.

Swanson was hesitant to define exactly what was possible before she and Hansen meet with Rethos in January.

“We will create a process where we get artists involved in lots of ways in designing projects,” Swanson said. “It could be as varied as an arts installation; it could be to fill vacant storefronts; it could be signage — there are all kinds of possibilities. You want to let the artists use their creativity to suggest to you things that are going to be worth doing and then you react to that.”

Organizers in Mankato put on an outdoor performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Willmar residents held an “In Common Sing-Along and Block Party.” In Wabasha, artists worked with children to create a mural of the St. Paul’s Wabasha Bridge over the Mississippi River.