Jul 25, 2019

A Spotlight on the Twin Cities


Artspace Immersion is a program run from the Consulting and Strategic Partnerships department at Artspace. Its focus is to provide a cohort of arts and cultural organizations with the tools necessary to undertake transformative and sustainable space challenges. In 2018, the program ran in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota and Memphis, Tennessee. Both cohorts excitedly committed to 18 months of this learning (the program was compared to a master’s program by one Twin Cities participant). The Twin Cities cohort wrapped up their experience at a large event called Artspace Immersion: Spotlight on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019. The Memphis cohort, in their eighth month, arrived in Minneapolis the same day to learn about the progress of their out-of-state compeers, and to tour, workshop, and comingle with other arts leaders from the Twin Cities.


A crowd of 100 arts supporters joined the Artspace Immersion: Twin Cities cohort at The Cowles Center for Dance & Performing Arts. The hour-long program featured representatives from Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center, FOCI Minnesota Center for Glass Arts, FilmNorth, HUGE Improv Theater, the Playwrights’ Center, Public Functionary, Saint Paul Ballet and Element Gym (as CoMotion Center for Movement), Threads Dance Project, and Youth Performance Company as they passionately spoke to their organizations’ space-related initiative – the specific focus of their work over the past year and a half. Their five-minute presentations were frequently interrupted by applause, cheers, and laughter, especially as seven of the organizations shared news of newly secured sustainable space.

A fun and informative reception followed the final presentations. Cohort and audience members mingled, spoke of grand and new ideas, and shared resources over refreshments.



Perhaps the most important audience members at Artspace Immersion: Spotlight were those who traveled farthest. Leaders from Arrow, Center for Transforming Communities, Collage Dance Collective, Indie Memphis, the Memphis Museum of Tribal and Visionary Art, Memphis Black Arts Alliance, Orange Mound Arts Collective, Orange Mound Block Chain, Total Spirit Connection, and Young Actors Guild attended Artspace Immersion: Spotlight to formally get to know the Twin Cities participants. An informal introduction followed the closing reception, as cohort members bonded during a lively dinner. The meal on June 12th set the stage for the exchanges that would take place during the following days.

The following morning began on a tour bus headed to New Rules in North Minneapolis. Founder Chris Webley’s story of starting this trifecta organization (it is a co-working space, community event center, and social marketplace) resonated with many in the Memphis cohort. Cultural exchange being the theme of the week, the cohort left New Rules for another North Minneapolis arts organization: Juxtaposition Arts. A tour of the three-building campus succinctly demonstrated the growing scope of the Minneapolis cultural organization’s work, and co-founders Deanna and Roger Cummings shared the story of their journey. Again, a shared story of struggle, growth, and achievement inspired and engaged its audience. As the cohort reloaded onto the tour bus, conversations rang bright with excitement and ideas. These conversations continued well into the afternoon, when Artspace National Advancement staff led a workshop on creative approaches to fundraising.


JXTA Tour2

That Friday, the Memphis cohort also took a stab at coalescing their space-related initiative over breakfast with Artspace staff. This low-stakes presentation evolved into a genuine exchange of ideas, feedback, and support. Then, for the final tours of the trip, the Memphis cohort split into small groups to tour relevant facilities (matched through capacity, mission, or programming) throughout the Twin Cities. The groups rejoined at CoMotion in St. Paul for a fourth stimulating tour of a creative space. The CoMotion tour was unique in that their project is largely in-process, and co-founders Dalton Outlaw, Isabel Chanslor, and Lori Gleason successfully used the space’s visual metaphor to speak directly to the process of moving from ideas, to plans, and, finally, construction.

The visit at CoMotion capped the fabulous experience of bringing leaders from Memphis, Minneapolis, and St. Paul together. The three-day flurry of shared ideas and connections saw sparks of organizational inspiration and personal friendship. It is exciting to think of what could take place in future years.

Artspace is grateful to The Kresge Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts for funding these events and Artspace Immersion in the Twin Cities and Memphis. Artspace is also grateful to CoMotion Center for Movement, FilmNorth, HGA Architects, Indigenous Roots, Juxtaposition Arts, Lundstrum Performing Arts, New Rules, Pillsbury House and Theatre, Public Functionary, the Textile Center, Tu Dance, and Youth Performance Company for opening their space to the Memphis Cohort.