The Yes! House
Granite Falls, Minnesota
In downtown Granite Falls, Minnesota, a vacant commercial space is becoming The Yes! House, a theater venue, regional hub for artists and creatives, youth recreation zone, and community gathering space to nurture conversations around social change.
Leading the project is the Department of Public Transformation (DoPT), an artist-led nonprofit focused on rural revitalization and civic engagement through the arts. The organization is fueled by a belief that arts-based interventions have the power to address some of the challenges rural communities face and strengthen social cohesion among community members. Leaders of the organization were looking for a permanent home for a traveling nomadic theatre company focused on celebrating small town life. A Granite Falls community member learned of their desire to infuse arts into downtown and donated a family-owned commercial property to DoPT, after having troubling selling it on the private market.
The build-out of the space is driven by a unique community design process. According to DoPT, “Creative Community Design Build is a deeply community-engaged, artist-led design and build process for the renovation of vacant Main Street buildings. Working with artists from Homeboat and architects from the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, DoPT spent one year producing pop-up events in the formerly vacant building to invite community input and ideas for the designs of the building.”
DoPT led the community on Discovery Tours, walkthroughs of the space and exercises in dreaming of what it could and should be. These tours engaged more than 400 people to envision their use of the space and provide feedback. The tours also gave organizers a chance to ask for donations for the build-out and cultivated community investment in the space in more ways than one.
The Yes! House is currently under construction and organizers are using this process as an opportunity as well. Project leads created a workforce training program to both be part of the build-out and also teach local residents skills in carpentry, construction, demolition, framing, lighting, bricklaying, and more.
Property Type: Commercial Structure
Project Type/ New Use: Art – Small Scale (e.g. painting; performance; visual)
Project Purpose: Community engagement; Decrease commercial vacancy
Initial Cost: Over $250,000
Funding Source: Philanthropic; Individual contributions; In-kind services
Organization Type: Nonprofit - Arts and Culture
Implementation Partners: Local government; Artist(s); Private sector
City: Granite Falls
Community Type: Rural
Project Website: The YES! House >
Organization Website: Department for Public Transformation >
Social: Facebook >
Press: YES! House in downtown Granite Falls building a future on the bones of the past >