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Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts

Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts

Cotter Schools is excited to assume ownership and operation of the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts. Cotter will continue to offer community arts education and performance programs — furthering the vision set forth by its founder, the late Stefannié Valéncia Kierlin, 50 years ago.

With Saint Mary’s academic program restructure, announced in May 2022, the department and academic courses connected to MCA have closed. To maintain a thriving arts resource for the community, Saint Mary’s engaged Cotter, a longtime community partner, to continue the great legacy of MCA. A majority of students served by MCA throughout its history are elementary and high school-aged youth in the Winona community, and the transfer aligns well with Cotter Schools’ expansion of programs on their growing Saint Teresa Campus.

The university has been incredibly honored to be affiliated with the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts since 2003,” said Father James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D., Saint Mary’s president. “Thousands of students have furthered their love of the arts through the community programming provided by the talented MCA staff. We are incredibly glad that this valuable space and resource will be utilized in its fullest capacity under Cotter’s leadership.”

Cotter will continue MCA’s legacy of quality arts programming for the Winona Community.  “With further planning, we look forward to what the future holds for this space and all those whose appreciation for the arts has been enhanced within its walls,” said Mary Eileen Fitch, president of Cotter Schools.

As part of the transfer, Cotter Schools will assume full ownership of the MCA property and assets as well as responsibility for its operations. Jacque Paulsen will serve as the director of MCA and will provide administrative oversight, effective immediately. All summer programming will continue as scheduled and fall programming will be announced later this summer.

More information can be found at

Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts
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