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Cultural Connections Through Art at Project FINE

Three posters promoting each workshop event: from left to right, Puerto Rican Bomba Dance, Mexican Corn Husk Dolls, and Hmong Story Cloth
For over three decades, Project FINE has
been a beacon of hope and support for refugees and immigrants in Winona County and the surrounding areas of Minnesota. Founded in 1990, this nonprofit organization has dedicated itself to helping newcomers integrate into the community, providing essential services such as foreign language interpretation, education opportunities, and empowerment initiatives.

With a small but dedicated staff, volunteers, interpreters, and extensive collaboration with over 70 local service providers, Project FINE has been instrumental in breaking down cultural and language barriers that often prevent newcomers from accessing critical resources, securing employment, and building a new life in the community.Children dance in a circle with their instructor

One of Project FINE’s most impactful initiatives is the Cultural Arts & Ancestry project, which aims to empower refugees and immigrants to share their artistic skills and heritage with the broader community. Funded by the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC), this program promotes cultural learning and arts experiences while engaging diverse artists.

In 2023, Project FINE’s Cultural Arts and Ancestry Project focused on three fine-art classes: Puerto Rican Bomba Dance, Mexican Corn Husk Dolls, and the Hmong Story Cloth.

Bomba y Plena, a dance style from Puerto Rico, was led by instructor Chalymar Martinez, who moved from Puerto Rico to Winona in 2018. Martinez not only taught these workshops for the community but also formed a small dance troupe that rehearsed and performed at the 2023 capstone event. The troupe’s enthusiasm and dedication were remarkable, and they have continued to rehearse and perform, taking their talents to local events and elementary schools to share their heritage.

Workshop participants assemble corn husk dolls

Project FINE has been offering similar arts programming since 2012, with over 600 participants in workshops and more than 2,200 attendees at their events. The organization’s commitment to fostering cultural connections has remained steadfast, and funding from SEMAC has been instrumental in allowing them to continue their work.

Looking ahead, Project FINE has secured another grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to provide similar workshops and cultural experiences. The organization remains committed to its mission of fostering cultural connections and promoting artistic expression among diverse communities, ensuring that newcomers have a platform to share their talents and traditions.

To learn more about Project FINE’s services and initiatives, visit their website, follow them on Facebook, or reach out to

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