We are a community arts organization offering accessible, low-cost or free arts programs led by accomplished professional artists, ESAC celebrates the diversity of its neighborhood and builds appreciation of the arts.
To collaborate with our community and artists to celebrate and experience the arts. ESAC achieves its mission by:
- Offering programs with professional artists that mirror the diversity of the community
- Providing accessible, free or low-cost art programs for children and families
- Approaching tough neighborhood issues and celebrating community strengths through the arts
- Serving as an arts resource for individuals and organizations in our community
- We believe in creative arts for everyone
- We place a strong focus on children and youth
- We pay attention to community needs
- We honor cultural diversity in programs, artists, and the organization
- We deliver quality programs and art through a diversity of aesthetic traditions
- We work in partnership wherever possible
The East Side is a place rich in history, creative potential, and change. Historically, a first stop for immigrants in the Twin Cities, the East Side has wonderful cultural assets, including Hmong, Italian, African, and Latino families living side by side.
The region is large and dynamic. It includes more than 100,000 people and encompasses many distinct and unique neighborhoods, from Phalen Lake to Dayton's Bluff over the Mississippi River, from areas around Interstate 35E and Swede Hollow to McKnight Road on the eastern edge of St. Paul.
In 1989, a grassroots residents group concerned with social and economic conditions suggested an arts council as one way to revitalize eastern St. Paul and reclaim Phalen Park, located in the heart of the East Side. Phalen Area Community Council sponsored an arts committee that met in one of the homes of its founders. This committee blossomed into the East Side Arts Council (ESAC). ESAC incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1991 and opened an office on the Payne Avenue, a space that remained its home for almost ten years.
ESAC moved to its current location at 977 Payne Avenue in 2001, a home that offers a storefront gallery to showcase the work of East Side artists as well as greater visibility for the organization. Sarah Fehr, an original member of the arts committee of East Side residents, continues to serve as executive director, guiding a staff of two full-time positions.
Today’s East Side Arts Council is dedicated to encouraging the creativity and strength of our community. We work with neighbors, artists and local groups to sustain, improve and celebrate the areas where we live and work. We seek to enrich the lives of East Side residents by providing diverse arts and cultural experiences for families and individuals.
Some of ESAC’s arts programs focus on socio-economic concerns, while others embrace cultural or educational concerns. Young people are a high priority for ESAC, as is drawing together people from across cultural and economic boundaries to share in the pleasure and fellowship of the arts.