Matthews Opera House and makeSPACE announce art programming partnership

SPEARFISH — The Matthews Opera House & Arts Center is excited to announce its partnership with Spearfish nonprofit makeSPACE (Spearfish Partnership for Arts, Cycling, and Equity) to collaboratively host arts and humanities programming.  

makeSPACE and the Matthews started discussions earlier this year about how arts and humanities programming could more effectively serve the community if the two organizations worked together. Both organizations have developed strong arts programs, materials and spaces, community support, and funding sources, but realized that the impact of programs would be greater with the two organizations working together.

Programming hosted through this partnership is made possible by a South Dakota Arts Council grant awarded to and managed by makeSPACE. The Matthews is generously providing the physical space to host and staff time to plan, develop, and implement ongoing and new programs.

“Coming out of COVID we’ve had to reevaluate and re-figure out how to better run programing and meet community needs,” said Elizabeth Freer, makeSPACE board chairwoman. “We had similar missions and reasons for doing programing … so it made a lot of sense to bring those efforts together and to work together to better meet those needs that the community has.”

“When Elizabeth Freer met with us about this opportunity, we were so excited,” added Darren Granaas, executive director at the Matthews. “makeSPACE has been doing some wonderful work in the community, and we are so happy to partner with them to carry forward programs from both organizations and build new opportunities for our community.”

Granaas explained that the Matthews would continue hosting makeSPACE author talks, regular art events including workshops, and would hold weekly makerspace hours that everyone in the community can take advantage of. The goal is to continue to provide arts programming on a pay as you can donation basis, which Granaas says makeSPACE has proven to be a successful model ensuring the arts are accessible to everyone in our community.

“This partnership is an amazing opportunity for our community,” Freer said. “Our community benefits when multiple organizations find ways to work together, share resources, and partner to achieve our goals. The community wins.”

Freer said the board hopes to branch out with its other two main focuses, “cycling” and “equality” to partner with other community spaces to offer programing in those areas as well. While those relationships are still being established, Freer said the collaboration with the opera house would be a great way to bring makeSPACES “arts” programming to the broader community.

“(With) the arts programing and the ‘maker space’ portion of it, we found the partnership with the Matthews as a way to more effectively meet community needs by working together.”

“We are still in the process of developing our programming, but our plan is to keep makeSPACE events going while asking participants to contribute a donation of any amount,” said Granaas.

“The small donations of even a few dollars by many individuals add up and help make these programs available to everyone,” Freer added.

Artists who are interested in paid opportunities to teach workshops, lead craft sessions, or present during author talks should contact the Matthews to learn more about available opportunities. Email inquiries about these opportunities can be directed to

Granaas said any donations made at makeSPACE events would be used to match the grant awarded to makeSPACE by the South Dakota Arts Council, which directly funds regional artists and purchasing supplies. The Matthews will continue to raise funds to support arts programming beyond the scope of this grant.

“All of our programming through partnership with makeSPACE will be marked with the tagline ‘makeSPACE at the Matthews,’” Granaas said. “We have already hosted a Halloween drawing workshop in October and our first Author Talk featuring Bruce Roseland is later this month. We also have a lot of other programs in the works that we will announce soon.”

The Matthews will be posting all upcoming ‘makeSPACE at the Matthews’ events on their website and social media as they are announced, and events will also be shared on makeSPACE social media. Open makerspace hours will be from 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesdays, in the backroom of the gallery and are open to the public.

The Matthews Opera House is located at 612 N. Main St. in Spearfish.

Alex Portal with the Black Hills Pioneer contributed to this article.

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