Mission, Vision & History


Early Days

The River Arts Alliance originated in the Blue Heron Committee – an ad hoc group of artists and art supporters who initiated a public statue project in Winona, MN. It was formed in 2006 and obtained support from the City of Winona and a few corporate sponsors. On Earth Day 2007, 15 seven-foot Blue Herons, locally designed and individually decorated by local artists, were unveiled and placed in public locations in Winona. These Blue Heron statues were very popular in the region, and in October 2007 raised $45,000 at auction. The Winona Fine Arts Commission used these funds for other local art projects. After such a successful project, those associated with the arts in Winona began to discuss the need to promote and support the vast artistic talents in the Winona area. Members of the Blue Heron Project, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, the Frozen River Film Festival, and individual artists as well as educational institutions and local government agencies began working together to build an organization for this promotion and support.

In 2008 the Blue Heron Committee convened community discussions regarding local needs as well as possibilities for promotion and support. As a result, the River Arts Alliance (RAA) was formed to address these needs and the burgeoning artistic potential of the Winona area. Also at that time, the Winona Fine Arts Commission contracted the Blue Heron Committee to produce and manage the annual Family Art Day, a free arts workshop open to everyone in the community. Since then, the Winona Parks & Recreation Department has partnered with River Arts Alliance to produce Family Art Day.

Present Day

Once participants in the discussions decided to move forward with the creation of RAA, they began to recruit people interested in local arts promotion to create a nonprofit organization that addresses the cultural needs of the Winona area. Currently, RAA has recently been granted non-profit status and consists of a Board of Directors with officers, by-laws, and projects sponsored by the organization. In addition, River Arts Alliance works with artists and other arts organizations in the region by promoting events and collaborating in grant writing opportunities to benefit the Winona area with its artists and organizations.

Currently, RAA sponsors a variety of local public art projects, such as Family Art Day and the HBC Fence Project. It also pursues grants to enable the organization to collaborate with local government and community organizations to feature public art to enhance Winona’s downtown presence, which attracts people to shop and enjoy its unique identity as a Mississippi River town.The organization’s website includes a community arts calendar as well as links to area artists and arts organizations. RAA has an active Facebook presence as well as an email list for these promotions. We currently host a blog on our website that features commentary about current and upcoming arts events.

Mission & Vision


River Arts Alliance supports and celebrates regional arts and culture by organizing educational programs, community events, and public art projects while promoting opportunities for artists and facilitating collaborations between organizations in the Winona region.


To enhance and promote the Winona region as a center of arts and culture.

Non-Discrimination Policy

River Arts Alliance does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status in any of its activities or operations.

These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provisions services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and members.

River Arts Alliance is an equal opportunity employer. We will not discriminate and will take affirmative action measures to ensure against employments, compensation, termination, upgrading, promotions, and other conditions of employment against any employee or job applicant on the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

This policy was adopted by the River Arts Alliance Board of Directors on February 12, 2018.