Tofte Lake Center was founded in 2007 by Liz Engelman and Michael Bigelow Dixon. TLC is lovingly referred to as Norm's Fish Camp, in honor of the resort’s previous owner, Norm Saari, who built and operated a fishing resort there for more than four decades.
TLC's first year was devoted to adapting the facilities for meetings and creative ventures. We offered pilot programs for individual artists in residence and to groups collboarting on artistic projects.
Our 2008 season marked TLC's first full summer of artistic programming. Residents included playwrights, scientists, poets, painters, anthropologists, choreographers, directors, blacksmiths, dancers, journalists, sculptors, and a museum curator.
2009 highlights included new play workshops, site specific theatre-making, new dance, music, and opera composition, and landscape art projects.
2010 launched our Emerging Artists Program, sponsored by the Jerome Foundation. Thanks to their generous support, we dedicated 3 weeks of programming to offer artistic residencies to 21 emerging artists from both Minnesota and the 5 boroughs of New York. TLC would like to deeply thank to the Jerome Foundation for making this residency program possible.
2011 continued our second year of our Emerging Artists Program, as well as growing our week-long Master Classes and Workshops (now referred to as Guided Workshops and Retreats) led by renowned Minnesota artists and leaders in their fields.
2012 celebrated our third year of our Emerging Artists Program and Master Classes, and hosted organizational retreats for organizations and companies including Sandbox Theatre, Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater Company, The Playwrights' Center, The McKnight choreopraphy fellows, as well as offering residencies to artists of all disciplines.
2013 inaugurated two new Master Classes, our Visualizing Nature and Art and Nature workshops for local and national visual artists. This was made possible by suport from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. We also opened The Aerie, our new dance-friendly rehearsal and performance space was inaugurated with a performance by Ely's own Accidental Ensemble and hosted the Minneapolis quartet Jelloslave.
2015 continued our dance residencies with returns of TLC veterans Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater and Shapiro & Smith Dance, and highlighted the visual art experience with the requested return of our Visualizing Nature Master Class and the addition of Inside Outside, Exploring Internal and External Space.