About the Cultural Center

The New York Mills Arts Retreat and Regional Cultural Center is a multidisciplinary arts organization that has been dedicated to expanding the cultural and creative opportunities for rural Americans for more than two and a half decades. The Center, founded by John Davis, is located in the town of New York Mills in Otter Tail County in north central Minnesota. The town was founded by Finnish settlers as a lumber mill; the once ubiquitous white pine forests are now gone.  Agriculture became the dominant industry in the region, and recreation and tourism are important as well.

The Center has initiated and sponsored multidisciplinary arts programming since its inception in 1990. One of its signature events, the Great American Think-Off, a philosophy contest for the ordinary person, will mark its 24th anniversary in June 2016. Staff of the Cultural Center produce and sponsor annual community festivals, including the Fish House Festival each July, an annual large-scale street theater Puppet Pageant each August, and the Longest Night Music Festival each December 21st.

The Center produces concert series in the fall and winter/spring seasons, and offers courses in the fine and folk arts through the Continental Divide Folk School.  New York Mills lies on the north-south Continental Divide of North America.  The Arts Retreat program, an artist residency program, has been in continuous operation for more than 25 years.

The Center is a non-profit organization organized as a 501 (c) 3 organization.  Support for its operation is provided by earned income, member donations, business donations, private foundation and government funding.  For more information about supporting our work in the arts, please click on the “Get Involved” button.