Welcome to the
Willmar Area Arts Council

In 1997, a group of citizens responded to an incentive from a COM-PAS and Blandin Foundation partnership to build stronger support and appreciation for creative arts in the Willmar area. Along with financial support from the Minnesota Rural Arts Initiative (RAI), the City of Willmar, Willmar Public Schools, a development grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council (SMAC), and membership fees, the Willmar Area Arts Council officially came into existence in the fall of 1997 and became a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity in 1998.

Since its inception, the Willmar Area Arts Council has been a visible advocate for the arts in West Central Minnesota. Besides providing the rotating exhibits in the Willmar Education and Arts Center, administering the Arts in the Schools project for the Willmar Public Schools and hosting themed, invitational exhibits in the Barn Theatre’s mezzanine gallery that run in conjunction with the current production, it is the force behind two popular events: Studio Hop and Celebrate Art! Celebrate Coffee!

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Upcoming Events

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Past Events

March 2021

A Conversation Among Three Fantasy/Sci-Fi Writers

The Prairie Gate Literary Festival offers a virtual conversation with three notable science fiction and fantasy authors. Joshua Phillip Johnson is an English professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris and author of the environmental fantasy novel The Forever Sea, due out by DAW Publishing in January. It is part of an expected epic fantasy series. Rebecca Kuang is an Chinese-American fantasy writer, and author of The Poppy War Trilogy, published by Harper Voyager. She is a 2020 Astounding Award winner as…

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April 2021

An Evening of Poetry

Three notable poets, including Nancy Naomi Carlson, Teri Ellen Cross Davis, and Athena Kildegaard from UMN Morris, share their work and discuss their inspiration from the theme of Writing Women's Lives. This event is part of the Prairie Gate Literary Festival's 2021 offerings.

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Council Happenings

The ARTS today!

I’m sure you are as ready for spring as I am!  It certainly seemed like a long, difficult winter!  I experienced a burst drain and water pipe during the recent cold spell.  Not fun at all!  Hopefully the coming spring and summer will continue to bring an improvement in conditions for everyone on many fronts.

The Willmar Public Schools art departments are now using the gallery space at WEAC.  We will be back with rotating exhibits in June.  Mary LaPatka and John Kellen’s virtual exhibits are still available on the Gallery page.



Janet Olney ~ Executive Director


We’re pleased to announce that a fifth bench has been completed.  The bench is in front of the Willmar Public Library.  Besides this latest one, there are four others – one in front of the Barn Theatre, one in front of Rositta’s,  one in front of Midtown Market and the fourth in front of the Health and Human Services Building.

We received a lot of press about this project – a nice article in the West Central Tribune on June 26 and a feature in the Minneapolis Star Tribune Sunday, July 7.  Watch for more benches to pop up!  And have your creation on one of them!

We won’t be making any more tiles until it’s safe to get together again.  When we’re ready to start the project up, we’ll post information here, so be sure to check back.



Donate while shopping!

Did you know that while you’re shopping at Amazon you can make a donation to the Arts Council?   Simply shop at www.smile.amazon.com, find the Willmar Area Arts Council in the list of organizations, and they’ll give a percentage of your purchase to us.  It’s simple, it’s quick, and we’ll be very appreciative!