One may assume that a moderately-sized metropolitan area in the heart of the Midwest, such as Sioux Falls, SD, may be one-dimensional, basic or even rather dull when it comes to placing an emphasis on arts and culture. Fortunately, for the residents and visitors of the Sioux Falls area, that assumption would be false. Sioux Falls' leaders have consistently embraced the significance of cultivating a vibrant arts and cultural sector in the community; knowing this helps attract visitors and encourages them to extend their stay. But a creative community also attracts entrepreneurs and workers and helps retain our youth. The following are just a few examples of such experiences and venues.

Sioux Falls SculptureWalk is an exciting exhibit of sculptures displayed year-round from the Washington Pavilion to Falls Park in downtown Sioux Falls. Ever since its inception in 2009, SculptureWalk has added artistic pizzazz to historic downtown. The exhibits change yearly and most often reflect historical significance and progressive standards for the city. Further, from May through September, the public votes for its favorite sculpture, which is deemed the "People's Choice Award." That sculpture is purchased at the end of the exhibit year for the city's permanent collection.

The Museum of Visual Materials offers interactive choices such as children's activities, crafts nights, classes, camps, exhibits, gallery space, and event facility rentals. One can build a creation at their LEGO station, decorate dolls and landscapes in and around the Barbie house, build a structure on their Imagination Playground (big blue blocks), or create a masterpiece in their craft area. The museum also is more than a place that stimulates the visual senses in the Faithe Gallery. The Main Gallery, features local and international artists. They have a new artist(s) featured every two months. What's more is all these options are tucked in a LEED Platinum Certified building. The museum, art gallery and kids' activities are free to the public.

What is an arts and culture mission without a stimulating, talented and devoted orchestra?

The mission of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra is: "To celebrate the tradition of live orchestral music and enrich the lives of people throughout our region." For 93 years, SDSO has been a visionary arts leader in the Sioux Falls community, state and region. The orchestra has nine full-time musicians and draws the remainder of its 80-member orchestra from across the region. The orchestra's commitment to high quality programming was recognized by the League of American Orchestras in 2012 when the SDSO won the John S. Edwards Award for Strongest Commitment to New American Music and again in 2013 with the presentation of the Morton Gould Award for Adventurous Programming.

Construction began on the first Minnehaha County Courthouse in 1889 and was used for county business until 1962. The building was converted to the Old Courthouse Museum and joined with the Pettigrew Home and Museum to become the Siouxland Heritage Museums. Perhaps one of the most striking features of the building is the 16 large murals on the hallway walls painted between 1915 and 1917. Painted by Norwegian immigrant Ole Running, the murals detail early life in Dakota, natural features, and images of his home in Norway. What is wonderful about the Old Courthouse Museum is it keeps its mainstays, such as the aforementioned large murals, while offering innovative, ever-changing exhibits year-round. It is always an eventful, entertaining and free way to spend time with family and/or friends perusing throughout the museum, catching a new exhibit while appreciating the history that dwells within its walls.

What it means to me

A Community Commitment to the Arts

by Audra Staebell

As a Sioux Falls resident who was born in this wonderful city, possesses an affinity for arts and science, lived in several places in my 20's and 30's from Minneapolis to oversees in the United Kingdom only to move back to establish personal and career roots, I can't think of a better place to express my affection of Sioux Falls' Arts & Culture scene than the Washington Pavilion.

My love of art comes from my childhood as my brothers and I lived amongst classical paintings and Victorian furniture my mother collected throughout her lifetime. Growing up my friends would often attempt to get-my-goat by light-heartedly saying, "we're going over to Audra's". I never minded, to this day I still appreciate every paint stroke and the craftsmanship of each piece in my childhood home. As I began my studies as a young adult at university, my passion for the scientific method blossomed as I dove into chemistry, biology, physics, psychology, sociology and the like. Over time I came to the conclusion that art and science are interwoven as one influences the other — what could be more exciting!

After traveling and experiencing art in places like the Louvre in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City or the British Museum in London and studying science in challenging degrees in my bachelor and master programs, I desired a place to live, where I could contribute my efforts and I knew Sioux Falls would offer not only the economic prosperity but the arts, culture and science experience I value. I knew one of these places to experience this would be the Washington Pavilion. Countless times I've ventured into the pavilion not knowing what to expect, whether it be a gallery, the science contributions or a performing art. From Jerry Seinfeld, the Toulouse-Lautrec pieces, to The Addam's Family — the Broadway Musical or exploring the intricacies and hands-on experiences of the Kirby Science Discovery Center with my family and friends, the Washington Pavilion is a continuously welcoming and rousing escape for this big city gal who has morphed into appreciating her smaller city roots while still possessing a heart and soul yearning for stimulating art, culture and science. A resounding Thank You to the Sioux Falls community leaders and residents for their wisdom of consistently establishing and expanding the fundamental aspects of a healthy community that a vibrant arts and culture provides. Let's keep it going as we plan now and for our future.