Starting in the spring of 2014, The Phipps Center for the Arts is launching a new marketing campaign to encourage residents and visitors to explore the small towns of the St. Croix Valley. The Art Bench Trail will connect seven artistic benches that were created between 2006 and 2011, with up to three more benches in the works.
The Phipps is leading the effort as a way to promote tourism to the region and strengthen connections between people and communities through art. The Art Benches are community art projects which build relationships and a sense of civic responsibility among participants, and help spark appreciation for the St. Croix River and the other special qualities of each participating community.
The Kresge Foundation recently awarded the project a grant to help promote the Art Bench Trail as a destination. Promotion efforts include a website, brochures with maps, new signs at each bench, and a marketing campaign to encourage local and visiting tourists to explore the St. Croix Valley, bench-by-bench.
Visiting the benches is a great way to tour the scenic river valley and visit its unique small towns. Most of the benches are located in parks that are good destinations in their own right, and the driving routes connecting them are mostly rural highways which criss-cross the valley.
There are currently benches in St. Croix Falls, Marine on St. Croix, Bayport and Hastings in Minnesota, and Somerset, Hudson, and Prescott in Wisconsin. Between 2006 and 2011, the benches were created collaboratively, partnering youth, artists, businesses, towns, and other members of communities to create unique works exploring our connection with the St. Croix Valley’s nature, history and culture.
The stated goals for The Bench Project are to build relationships and a sense of civic responsibility among participants, and to spark appreciation for the federally-designated “wild and scenic” St. Croix River – its history and wildlife – and other special qualities of each participating community.
The Phipps Center for the Arts
“Celebrate the creative spirit” is the mission of The Phipps Center for the Arts. Since 1983, the Drama Council has produced over 130 community theater productions, The Phipps Children’s Theater has mounted nearly 100 shows for family audiences, the Music Council has presented or produced over 500 concerts, and the Visual Arts Council has mounted well over 300 exhibitions or art fairs. In addition, hundreds of classes and workshops in the performing and visual arts have been offered every season. The center offers the broadest scope of programming and the greatest involvement of volunteers among the various arts organizations in the St. Croix Valley of eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.