When news broke last week that the Walker Art Center was putting its annual Music and Movies in the Park series on hiatus this summer, an outcry immediately rose up amongst Twin Cities residents. Here's just a sampling of some of the comments that shot out across Twitter:
aulku: Noo! :( Summer RUINED
meretewells: WHAT?! Not cool, Walker.
AlludedInSquint: Riot in the park, anyone?
When Matt Barthelemy heard the news, he sprang into action. Along with friends he created a facebook page to organize people interested in making the festival happen this summer - with or without the Walker Art Center.
As of this writing, his group "The 34th Year (of Movies & Music at Loring Park)" has 1700 members. Barthelemy says he's "super-excited" to see people joining the cause.
The community doesn't want to burn any bridges with the Walker Art Center - I'm a huge fan of the Walker - and the best thing that they do is movies and music in the park. But they cancelled it without allowing the community to have a voice in the decision. If funding was an issue, or logistics was an issue, they could have at least brought other people to the table to help out.
Barthelemy is now working to form a non-profit, and get a park permit. He says he'd love for the Walker Art Center to at least be involved in the conversation.
Barthelemy says Minnesotans live for summertime and, like the May Day Parade, the Loring Park series is a significant part of the Minneapolis summer experience.
The Walker Art Center's Rachel Joyce says the PR department was contacted by Barthelemy, and has responded to him.
We know about the page, we're aware of it, and it sounds great. We support anyone doing anything in the community around the arts. Obviously it wont be the Walker's movie and music series, so it won't be the Walker's "34th year of movies and music." The next one we host will be "the 34th" - this is their first year."
Walker Director Olga Viso wrote on the museum's blog that she appreciates the special significance of the movie and music series to the civic life of the metro area and is extremely grateful to the community for embracing it all these years:
As a contemporary art center committed to bringing art, artists, and audiences together in innovative ways, we think it is critical to re-evaluate all of our programming from time to time and experiment with new ideas that inspire us as individuals, cultures, and communities... Summer Music & Movies and other Walker programs--Rock the Garden, Momentum, and Choreographers' Evening--have taken hiatuses in the past only to return reinvigorated and better than ever. We hope you'll take part in the many free activities planned at the Walker all summer long as we re-envision how a popular program like Summer Music & Movies can be even better in the future.
I am always so disappointed when groups like the one Matt Barthelemy has created bash the Walker for not giving the community a voice in this decision. If only they knew the cost of an event of this size. The permits, the insurance, the payments made to the bands, the cost of renting the film, and not to mention the enormous amount of staff time it takes to produce such events. I feel like the Walker does do a lot of things with community input and for the community for free. Free Thursday Nights, Free films, and now the new Open Field project, which allows YOU the public to join in and create programs of your own. I also think we are not taking a hard look at the Minneapolis Park board, without whose support and partnership makes it difficult to produce Music and Movies. Why are they not being called out? While I am sad that this decision has come about, I do trust the Walker will bring it back with a fresh face and the same great programming they are committed to. In the mean time, I am going to be attending some of the great programming on the open field and I hope you will too. I commend Olga Viso on her decision and know that it was not made out of malice, but with the concern of the institution and its long term finances. It will come back for its 34th year and it will be great!
My thoughts were along the same lines as AH above. The Walker should give the community a voice? Foot the bill along with them and you can take a seat at the table to make these decisions. While that might sound abrupt, it's the truth. The Walker gave us a gift and I thank them for it. They are good neighbors.
Each of the 10 (or so) previous years I have written a letter to the Walker stating that if they had a donation bucket to keep the series running that most would donate. Each year I have heard nothing from them. And I've yet to see a bucket.
Actually that "bucket" would be your membership and paying the $8 admission on the non-free days to see the exhibitions.