ArtCentral: RE:Create, Films, and Fences

By Elizabeth Freer
Matthews Opera House, ArtCentral Manager

Elizabeth Freer, ArtCentral Mgr.

With so many opportunities to connect and create, the lull of February and March seemed to fly right by. It has been a busy month of activities, events, and conversations!

On March 20, we screened the third film in the ArtCentral Film Festival: Season One (series is co-sponsored by the Northern Black Hills Rotary Club) which was titled “Making Noise: The Story of a Skatepark.” The film by Cecilia Cornejo Sotelo was made in collaboration with the Northfield Skateboard Coalition. It chronicles the lengthy struggle of three generations of skateboarders of Northfield, MN to secure a permanent place for their sport, bearing witness to young people’s resilience and perseverance as it exposes the victories and failures of the civic process in small-town America.


Ms. Cornejo traveled to Spearfish for the event and spoke to several classes at Spearfish Middle School and at Black Hills State University. Ms. Cornejo has also donated a copy of her film to Spearfish which will be available in the coming weeks to borrow from Grace Balloch Memorial Library.

The last film in Season One of this FREE Film Festival is showing on Thursday, April 12 at Black Hills State University (Jonas 305) and is titled “More Than A Word.” The film is about the controversy over Native American-based sports mascots within the context of Native American history. The screening is part of a full week of events during American Indian Awareness Week. Discussion following the film will be led by students currently taking a course titled “American Indians in Film and Social Media.”

In March, we also concluded RE:Create – our creative community makerspace. What an incredible experience to see the way art can be a tool to connect and strengthen our community. Over 1,100 people participated in RE:Create between February 3 and March 24; over 640 people participated in more than 40 scheduled events, and over 470 people explored their creativity outside of planned gatherings.

More than 40 artists and authors contributed their time and talents to provide the various RE:Create programs, but it took everyone’s participation and saying “yes!” to make the program so successful. Most comments received through the participant surveys indicated that people most valued trying something new or making a new connection in the community. We look forward to seeing what the community does next with RE:Create!

This spring, ArtCentral is re-starting the “Connecting our Community through Linking Fences” project. Hopefully, you’ve seen the fun fence installations around the community from last summer, and now you will have another chance to join us this summer. We invite the entire community to come together and start planning out a fence project. Start brainstorming and stay tuned for more details to come.

Have you experienced the impact of ArtCentral, or the arts more generally, in our community? We are collecting stories of the impact and our learning and invite you to contribute your thoughts by sending an email (address below) and share your perspective!

ArtCentral is a community collaboration, funded by a 2016 Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant, to centralize the arts as an integrated asset for inclusivity, economic development, and outreach in Spearfish. As this is a community-based project, we welcome feedback and suggestions, as well as volunteers. Please contact us by email at [email protected] if you are interested in volunteering or have suggestions.

Lead by Elizabeth Freer, ArtCentral manager at The Matthews, the project brings together a committee of advocates, artists, and residents working together over two years to create a new model for arts planning and outreach, focusing on the themes of belonging, inclusion, equity, rural connectedness, cultivating creativity, imagining space, and the arts as a community development catalyst.

“I am excited for this opportunity to work in Spearfish with The Matthews on this innovative and important project to advance the arts in our community,” stated Freer. “I encourage local residents who are interested in participating in this process to apply to be a part of the committee.”