The Spirit Room began as a grassroots arts organization in 1997 with gallery exhibits and literary events. The warehouse gallery, at 411- 11th Street North in Fargo, was supported by yoga, dance, meditation classes and cash contributions by a community of people who formed around the space. Each contributed $50 monthly to pay the rent. Dawn Morgan and Mamata, Marilynn Quam, were the original organizers.
In 2000, we began to develop a new gallery at 111 Broadway in downtown Fargo in a second-floor space abandoned thirty years previously. A retail showroom was developed into an art gallery. A kitchen was installed, a second gallery added, and office space created. Since becoming a non-profit 501c3 organization in 2004, grant applications have been written during the annual grant rounds, members and donors have supported us, and occasional fundraisers have further diversified our sources of income. In recent years, the importance of mission-related rentals for special events and workshops have become an important revenue stream.
In 2009, we completed a strategic plan detailing two additional phases of our development that included expansion into the next building at 109 Broadway. In October of 2009, a passage through the brick wall between the two buildings was cut to allow the Spirit Room to double its floor space. The Lotus Studio was created as a larger gallery and space for classes. Healing arts studios were developed, a conference area was already in place, and the Center for Interfaith Projects began operations. A great thank you to Lee Swanson for providing us with these possibilities.
Doubling our space was phase two of our development. Gaining access to the larger building next door was necessary for phase three which was the addition of 24 artist studios on the third floor of 109.5 Broadway in November of 2012. The Artist Studios filled quickly and remained full until 2018, rented by a very stable group of artists. The studio artists were active participants in the FM Visual Artists Studio Crawl each October.
We continue to provide programming in the humanities: scholarly events, visual and literary arts, and dance and performance arts. We partner with nonprofits throughout the community such as NDSU and MSUM English, Art and History Departments, Nordic Culture Clubs, and Indian Education of the Fargo and West Fargo Public Schools. Many of our events are held off-site at locations such as the Fargo Public Library, Zandbroz, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, or the Fargo Theater. Our founders have faithfully supported our mission and special projects. Most prominent are the North Dakota Humanities Council, the North Dakota Council on the Arts, and the Arts Partnership.
In recent years, the Center for Interfaith Projects moved to NDSU and Carol Kapaun Ratchenski transitioned her counseling practice to the Spirit Room, naming her space the Center for Compassion and Creativity. In addition, Dawn Morgan and Carol Ratchenski, along with additional board members, started the River Cities Literary Arts Center which partners with the Spirit Room on projects which engage the literary arts.
As we move toward our 21st year, the Spirit Room continues to expand its mission “to enrich lives through community focused engagement and promotion of creative, contemplative, and healing arts.”