In 2005, the McKnight Foundation issued one of the first reports on rural arts in Minnesota. Entitled Bright Stars, the report examines four major areas—creating opportunities for engagement, developing leaders, shaping community identity, and the new rural arts economy. The report explores these areas by presenting several community case studies for each topic. Towns profiled include Grand Marais, Bemidji, New York Mills, Montevideo, Big Fork, Fergus Falls, and Harmony.
The report concludes with several recommendations for communities to capitalize on the arts as a tool for community building, including:
- Engaging citizens, visitors, neighbors, and friends through fostering the creation of artistic works that encourage dialogue and building broad community partnerships around art opportunities.
- Enhancing citizen collaboration and creating community solutions through diverse leadership by granting artists and arts leaders a place at the table when discussing community challenges and establishing artistic collaborations that encourage citizens to reach beyond traditional roles to share resources.
- Shaping community identity by recognizing and preserving the contributions the arts have already made to the community and identifying the ways that the arts strengthen the values that citizens hold in common.
- Developing new economic opportunities by creating and packaging community-specific definitions of art, establishing an arts brand identity for the community, and recognizing that cultural tourism is not the only way the arts contribute to rural economies.