A History of the Orange City Arts Council
The Orange City Arts Council is proud of its history and wishes to thank those who had the foresight to begin an arts council in our community, those who have served on the Arts Council board in past years, and the City of Orange City for its continued support. Citizens of all ages have had their lives enriched through the Orange City Arts Council.
In 1976, Kay Doornink and Dorothy Dunlop sent a letter to the City Council of Orange City explaining that they were in the process of forming an Orange City Arts Council. Although they were not formally organized, they had been invited to join with arts councils of Sioux Center, Le Mars, Cherokee, and Storm Lake in forming the Public Opera Company of Northwest Iowa. The opera company would perform two operas and hire baritone James Javore from New York to sing the lead, and to perform in local schools. Community members would be cast in the remaining roles and be used for the orchestra. The City Council responded by granting $1,000 for the birth of the Orange City Arts Council.
On July 11, 1977, the Articles of Incorporation were filed for the Orange City Arts Council. Signatures of the first board members were included: Lewis Arkema, Kay Doornink, Mary Jane Hofland, Marlys Hassebroek, Roland Simmelink, Dorothy Dunlop, Elinor Noteboom, Betsy Huibregtse, Paul Aykens, Ronald Zwiers, Calvin Rynbrandt and Marilyn Spradling. The Orange City Arts Council was official. Four months later it sponsored its first public performance – “Gianni Schicchi” and “The Old Maid and the Thief,” operas performed by the Public Opera Company of NW Iowa.
In 1978, the Arts Council arranged its first artist-in-schools residency. Tom Gibbs, a sculptor from Dubuque, spent three weeks in Orange City, sharing his art with students in Orange City schools. During his residency, the M-OC Senior High art students designed models for large pieces of sculpture. Rachel Ruisch’s design was chosen to be developed into a full-size steel structure and was positioned in front of the high school.
A year later, the Sioux Center, Le Mars and Orange City Arts Councils continued with the Public Opera Company, and presented “Hansel and Gretel.” This was the final performace by the Public Opera Company but the arts councils continued to grow.
In the early years of the Orange City Arts Council, activities were mostly geared to arts education in the local schools through the artist-in-schools program. However, in 1986 the council had the opportunity to present a boys choir from the Netherlands, the Zeeuwse Zangkoor, in their first visit to the U.S. The concert was a great success, and began the council’s series of sponsorships of quality performances.
In the summer of 1986, the Orange City Arts Council joined forces with arts councils in Hawarden, Rock Valley and Sioux Center, plus the Sioux County Arts Council, in promoting the arts at the Sioux County Youth Fair. Activities for children and artist demonstrations were scheduled… and became an annual tradition through 1999.
In 1986, realizing that the Arts Council was steadily growing and was a challenge for an all-volunteer board, the board decided to apply to the Iowa Arts Council for a “salary support grant.” The grant was approved and in August, ’86, Joyce Bloemendaal was hired to be the Program Director for the council. Office space was provided by the City of Orange City.
Also in ’86, art demonstrations were scheduled to allow local artists to display and demonstrate their talents to the community.
In 1987, a puppeteer was hired to present a performance in Orange City – the first attempt at arts education to preschoolers. That year the Arts Council and Northwestern College began a cooperative effort, presenting a performance of the Daugherty, Davis and McPartland Jazz Trio. The Arts Council and college have since cooperated to present many performances.
The Arts Council has also presented occasional performances to broaden the community’s art experiences. In April, 1987, the Orange City Town Hall stage was graced by the Dalienne Majors Modern Dance Company, which performed, plus spoke about the components and meaning of the dances.
To this point, funding for events was provided entirely from state or city funds. In 1987, it was determined that private donations would be helpful to meet goals. The first annual ice cream social was held in the downtown park and a local jazz trio performed. Proceeds went to the Arts Council.
The first performance of Meester Zangkoor was held in 1987, also. Local music teacher Dale Boone suggested the idea, and a community chorus came together to present a Christmas concert. John Buntsma, then Arts Council president, suggested the name, Meester Zangkoor, meaning “Master of Song Chorus.” The unusual name of the chorus drew attention to the group. Meester Zangkoor presented a holiday concert regularly through 2002.
In 1990 and 1991, the Iowa Arts Council awarded the Orange City Arts Council a community challenge grant, which required a cash match from the community – to develop a membership/ contributor list. The grant was matched with local funds both years. Community dollar support has increased almost each year following.
Other programs that had their beginnings in the 90′s were Summer Suites, an annual evening of music and performances in gardens; the Arts at Noon program featuring artist-in-schools artists sharing their experiences with local citizens during their noon hour; and the Missoula Children’s Theatre which, every other year, has presented a show featuring two professional actors and many local children. Summer Art Scene began in Windmill Park, featuring three community band concerts and a concert by a professional group *– in June and July.
In 1993, the board realized a need for advance planning and began a rotation of writing a long-range plan every few years. For several years, a newsletter was sent to improve communication with community members/ donors.
Other program additions in the 90s included art classes for children, taught by professionals through the summer recreation program and after school; a Dutch Folk Arts and Craft Fair held during Tulip Festival; Art Fest, which began as the Arts Council’s 20th anniversary celebration and continued as an annual event; and joint efforts with Northwestern College in presenting art exhibits.The new millennium brought new projects. The Orange City Tulip Festival committee asked the Arts Council to sponsor ArtBurst, an annual fine arts fair held on the Saturday of Tulip Festival. Later the Tulip Festival steering committee took over ArtBurst. The Arts Council also broadened its publicity opportunities by designing a website, linked to the City of Orange City site.
Joyce Bloemendaal, executive director of the Orange City Arts Council for 22 years, resigned in December 2008, and Janine Calsbeek was hired as executive director in March 2009. The Arts Council has continued to offer artists-in-schools residencies and programs, art and theatre classes, community band performances, and shows by professionals including the jazz ensemble Open Hands, violinist Jessica Mathaes and the dance troupe from the University of Iowa, Dancers in Company.
New in 2009 and 2010 was The Touring Gallery, featuring area artists in local venues. Grants have made it possible to offer traveling art exhibits, the art displayed on portable panels purchased by the Arts Council. Also new was the class, Reminisce and Record, offered at Landsmeer retirement community, the OrangeRind Film Festival, The Night of El Gato Negro poetry slam, and MomentuM – a Community Dance Experience. Collaboration began with The SchoolHouse Company, a local theatre company staging shows and offering classes, and collaboration continued with Northwestern College.
The first Onstage Orange City was held in the summer of 2010, featuring performers in Windmill Park on Thursdays all summer. Fourteen performances were held, sponsored by local donors. The series was received enthusiastically by the community.
After 33 years, the Orange City Arts Council has grown dramatically. Artist-in-schools residencies through 2010 number over 100. The annual budget now exceeds $50,000.