Nurturing Community – Burnett Area Arts


As published in the Intercounty Leader on May 3, 2023

Burnett Area Arts (BAA) is a membership driven, volunteer-based 501(3)c nonprofit organization established in 2004. We serve the creative community of Northwest Wisconsin, primarily, but not limited to, Burnett County. Membership is not restricted to artists; we welcome anyone who is interested in supporting the arts and creativity. One of our biggest challenges is attracting new and retaining current members. We have no paid staff; the executive board and committees are all volunteers. Special events are planned and executed by member volunteers.


Part of our mission is to nurture and support local artists and artisan crafters by giving them a place to exhibit and sell their original works in many mediums. We partner with Northwest Passage (NWP), a residential treatment and academic campus for at risk youth, to operate the Northwest Passage Gallery which is staffed on weekends by BAA member-volunteers. The Gallery also showcases the nature photography of NWP youth who participate in the Expressive Arts Program.

As an element of our mission, we host an annual Outstanding Student Art Show celebrating March as Youth Art Month to showcase the creativity of students from five area high schools as well as nature photography by NWP youth. In this year’s 4th annual show, 52 students exhibited 60 of their artworks. This is also the inaugural year for our scholarship program; we will award a $500 scholarship to a local graduating high school senior to pursue an arts-related career in an academic or vocational setting. We had five applicants at the March 15 submission deadline.


We offer classes from late spring through fall that are open to the public. Members also teach some of the classes. In 2023, BAA will hold a Summer Art Camp for middle school students, and we hope to make summer art camps for youth a permanent program in the future.


We also stage several special events throughout the year such as the June Burnett Arts Festival, August Arts Alive on 35 in conjunction with Webster’s Gandy Dance Days, and the November Northwoods Holiday Event. “We measure our success by seeing increased attendance at these events, particularly by families with children,” noted Deb Norling, who currently heads up the BAA.


The property of what is now the Northwest Passage office headquarters on North Bass Lake Road used to be a lumber company. Building supplies and lumber were stored in the building that is the Gallery. “We have visitors in the Gallery who say they’ve driven by many times and finally decided to stop in and have a look,” said Norling. “They are astonished by what they find!”


The group meets monthly on first Mondays (unless it’s a holiday) at the Gallery; meeting times vary seasonally. For details about joining BAA, class schedules and more, visit, Facebook or Instagram pages.


The Northwest Alliance Community Foundation is an affiliate of the St. Croix Valley Foundation. We support our area nonprofits with educational opportunities and grants. Please consider joining us by making a donation. See our website for more information:, or email: