ArtCentral: Two Years!

By Elizabeth Freer
Matthews Opera House, ArtCentral Manager

Elizabeth Freer, ArtCentral Mgr.

It seems hard to believe that ArtCentral – the Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant awarded to The Matthews Opera House and Arts Center in 2016 – has been underway for two years. Good, hard, and important learning and work has taken place and we will continue to see the impacts of these efforts in our community in the coming years.

The grant has supported many projects including Cardboard Chaos; Linking Fences in the summer of 2017, and again in 2018; two sets of Painted Crosswalks; RE:Create – a Creative Community Makerspace; ArtCentral Film Festival: Season One and Season Two, including discussions following each of the eight films, and a photography exhibit; Art of My Life: A Multimedia Celebration of our Creative Soul; this monthly column, and more.

As we look back on the last 24 months, the ArtCentral committee, together with the staff of The Matthews, has worked to plan and implement these activities which were designed to address the outcomes that were defined in the grant application. This work will continue through ongoing work of The Matthews, and also through connections formed and strengthened which lead to new opportunities for the arts in our community.

We have partnered with so many in the community, both individuals and organizations, to make this work possible. Through engaging the community in a variety of ways, we have worked collaboratively, identified and shared resources, tested ideas and possible solutions, increased awareness of the diversity of art and artists in Spearfish, and increased the connectivity between organizations to make the arts more inclusive and available to everyone.  

Our work isn’t done yet! This fall there are two more films screening for FREE at The Matthews as part of the ArtCentral Film Festival: Season Two co-sponsored by the Northern Black Hills Rotary Club.

On Tuesday, November 13th at 6:30pm, join us to view “The Homestretch” which follows three homeless teens as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future. The discussion following the film will be led by Northern Hills CASA with additional community panelists to talk about how this film relates to our community.

Finally, on Tuesday, November 27th at 6:30pm, come watch the film “Dakota 38” which was created in line with Native healing practices, and the film is offered as a gift. It was inspired by one individual’s dream – a Native spiritual leader and Vietnam Veteran. The film is the story of the journey to retrace the 330-mile ride from Lower Brule to Mankato. Join us for the film and a short discussion following co-sponsored by BHSU Center for American Indian Studies.

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.