As the Minnesota Orchestra's lockout continues, it's creating a backlog of grant money intended for projects that have been stalled.
According to Director of Public Relations Gwen Pappas, the orchestra has received approximately 20 grants for the 2012-13 season.
Approximately $100,000 in grant money has been returned.
"How we have handled these depends on whether it is a restricted operating grant (for a specific project) or a general operating grant. With restricted grants, in cases where the donor/foundation wishes to move the project and funding forward we have done so. In cases where it doesn't make sense to "relocate" a project, we have returned funding. With general operating grants, in most cases the donors/foundations have continued to support general operating costs."
This just days after the National Endowment for the Arts gave the orchestra a grant for $40,000 for a previously planned summer music program.
Pappas says the orchestra is asking for an extension on the grant to be used in the next season. It's already been granted an extension on another NEA grant from last winter.
The Minnesota Orchestra has sequestered its general operating funds from the State of Minnesota until a negotiated settlement has been reached.(2 Comments)
It's been a busy week, and I've been off my blogging game because I was filling in on The Daily Circuit. So here's a quick recap to bring you up to speed.
MPR Photo/Euan Kerr
On Monday SPCO musicians ratified a new three-year contract, ending a lockout that lasted 191 days.
The new contract will reduce musicians' annual pay by $15,000, include a retirement buyout for musicians 55 and older, and reduce the size of the orchestra from 34 to 28 players.
Now musicians and management must begin the work of repairing strained relations.
Portrait of Osmo Vanska by Ann Marsden
On Thursday Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vanska sent a letter to management stating the orchestra needs to be rehearsing by early September to have enough time to prepare for an appearance at New York's Carnegie Hall in November.
He called the Carnegie Hall performance one of the most significant goals of his tenure, and said if the appearance is cancelled because Carnegie Hall officials "lose confidence in our ability to perform those concerts as a result of the extended lockout," he will be forced to resign as music director.
Striped Robe, Fruit, and Anemones (1940) by Henri Matisse
Image courtesy of the MIA
This week the MIA announced a new exhibition will be coming to Minneapolis next year featuring 80 works by the French master. The exhibition comes from the Baltimore Museum of Art's collection, which boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of Matisse's work in the world.
Art lovers packed Burnet Gallery Thursday night in support Simpson Housing
Image courtesy of Burnet Gallery
4. Artists raise more than $50,000 for the homeless... in two hours.
Last night Art 4 Shelter held its annual fundraiser at Burnet Gallery in Minneapolis. The event features original works on paper - almost all of it 5x7 in size. The more than 1400 works of art sold for $30 a piece, which happens to be the amount of money it takes Simpson Housing to care for one homeless person for one night (including a clean bed, warm meals, and counseling services). In addition, a selection of 8x10 works sold for $150 each, and generous folks could make additional donations to a "giving tree." As a result, artists and art lovers managed to provide shelter for many of their fellow Minnesotans for the coming year.
Photo by Scott J. Pakudaitis
5. The Twin Cities arts community mourns the loss of John Munger.
Early this week the Twin Cities performing arts community learned of the death of longtime dancer John Munger. Munger was a sort of irascible uncle to the local dance scene, continuing to dance when other dancers might have felt too self conscious about their age and physique. He was also a great writer - you can read samples of his work in a lovely remembrance assembled by TC Daily Planet's Jay Gabler.(1 Comments)
About one hundred students, faculty and alumni gathered on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul this evening to show support for a plan to keep the College of Visual Arts open.
Ben Levitz, an alum of CVA and president of CVA Action, speaks to supporters before meeting with the college board.
MPR Photo/Marianne Combs
In January the administration announced the art school will close its doors in June due to financial problems.
Since then, members of the group CVA Action have lobbied to save the school, and raised $70,000 for the effort.
College of Visual Arts alum Ben Levitz heads up the group CVA Action; tonight he's presenting the details of a plan which he hopes could turn the college's fate around.
"It's leveraging the real estate, the multiple buildings that the school has and using those to fill our short term operational cash need" explains Levitz. "But then also surrounding that with a group of professional fundraisers that can really strengthen the other cash resources that the school needs."
CVA Action supporters include current students and faculty
MPR Photo/Marianne Combs
The plan also includes broadening the board which currently has only six members. Senior Tara Shaffer says she hopes the current board will be open to giving the school a second chance:
"Why make sure it's broken before you leave? Why do that? Why take something away from the world before you're gone - you're gone either way. Why not give us a chance? If we fail miserably they can laugh from their houses if they want - that would be fair. But why say no to a chance? I just don't understand the point of that at all."
Representatives of the College's board were not immediately available for comment; CVA Action's meeting with the board was not open to the public or the media.
Editor's note: Look for more reporting on this story in the coming days...(4 Comments)
Last week a dog named Schoep was inducted into the 2013 Wisconsin Pet Hall of Fame.
Not bad for an animal who, as of last fall, had only weeks to live.
John Unger supports his dog Schoep in Lake Superior as a way to ease the pain of Schoep's chronic arthritis. This photo, taken by Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, went viral online, compelling thousands to make donations for the dog's medical care.
Six months ago a photograph of John Unger and his ailing dog Schoep inspired an outpouring of generosity, which to date totals more than $50,000. Today Schoep is alive and well, and those funds are now helping other sick dogs to get help and find new homes.
Initial donations helped to treat Schoep's severe arthritis. With the excess, Unger and friends have founded Schoep's Legacy Foundation. The foundation's mission is to support efforts to improve animal welfare.
While the foundation is still awaiting certification from the IRS, it has already donated money to a number of Bay Area spay and neuter programs which serve low income people of Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It also helped the Chequamegon Humane Association to buy a new van.
But perhaps most interesting of all is "The Cider Project." Based in Northern Wisconsin, it helps local shelters by providing medical and surgical care to pets that need extra help to make them more "adoptable." The program is the brainchild of Dr. Erik Haukaas, Schoep's veterinarian.
For example, a Basset-Beagle named Lumpy had a hernia. The Cider Project paid for his medical work to be done, and he's since found a home.
Dr. Erik Haukaas hangs out with Lumpy
Photo: Hannah Stonehouse Hudson
Another dog, a Pomeranian named Midge, suffered from ovarian tumors, which impeded her ability to walk and caused extensive hair loss on the lower part of her body. After treatment, her gait returned to normal and her hair grew back; she's since been adopted.
Due to all the popularity, Unger and his dog now have their own Facebook page, with more than 106,000 fans who check in regularly to get updates on Schoep's health.
But amid all the great news there is a sad story to report. Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, the photographer who captured Unger and Schoep's loving relationship, recently lost her husband in a tragic ice fishing accident. In a bittersweet twist, the thousands of fans she made with her photograph have become a source of support in her grief.
One of the civic leaders posing with shovels when ground was broken on the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts was George Latimer, then mayor of St. Paul. Now in semi-retirement, he continues to promote the city as a point of personal pride -- as when, for example, he brags to old friends from law school. Or when he fires off a few hundred words in a letter to MPR.
Former St. Paul Mayor George Latimer photographed in 2008
MPR Photo/William Wilcoxen
"Our dream was for the Ordway to enliven a downtown that had been in decline," Latimer wrote this week. "Nine million visitors to the Ordway later, I can say our hopes for that patch of dirt we were shoveling have been exceeded.
"Downtown St. Paul is different because of the Ordway. And the arts are different too. The Minnesota Opera has become a leader in its field. Last year it won the Pulitzer Prize for Music, and its most recent opera was reviewed in the New York Times. I hope my old classmates read what the Times' music critic had to say about the new opera that premiered in downtown St. Paul.
"But what about the labor lockout at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra? What about the future of St. Paul's cultural ambassadors? Well, we seem to be living in an age of lockouts, and none of us are too fond of it. The Wild, the Timberwolves and the Vikings were all locked out in the last two years. Their seasons were disrupted, but they all returned to playing. The same will eventually happen with the SPCO, a point on which management and labor agree.
"Unlike other troubled orchestras across the country, the SPCO has no debt, hasn't taken large draws from its endowment and doesn't own a large building it must run and maintain. However, it did run a sizable deficit last year, its first in more than a decade. So to stay out of trouble - indeed, to continue to grow in quality - its new contract must secure a solid financial base.
"Back in the 1980s, a 'sense of place' was what we hoped the Ordway would deliver. From the day the doors opened it has been a Twin Cities favorite, a gathering place that shows off what is beautiful about St. Paul. It is also the No. 1 cultural destination for public school students, the home of a great Children's Festival, and the state's oldest arts organization, The Schubert Club. One sign of the Ordway's success is the lack of free nights on its calendar.
"Before long this lockout will be over, a blur amidst the other lockouts of this era. By then, the Ordway's new concert hall will be underway, and the finances of those performing at the Ordway will be strengthened by a more robust endowment. The effort to accomplish both of those goals is this generation's contribution to what we built in the '80s. We faced obstacles back then, too, but we persisted. The Ordway has been a winner for this community for decades, particularly for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Their success will continue."
Tomorrow hundreds of Minnesotans from across the state will congregate at the state capitol to talk about the importance of the arts.
Minnesota State Capitol
MPR Photo/Steve Mullis
Sheila Smith, director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, organizes "Arts Advocacy Day." Each year she rallies the troops, and brings her advocates up to speed on the most important points they need to discuss with their representatives.
Knight Arts' Susannah Schouweiler recently checked in with Smith to find out what would be at the top of this year's agenda. It begins with a fine-tuning of the distribution of Legacy Amendment funds:
They're asking lawmakers to distribute a full 50 percent of the arts-specific funds gleaned from the amendment to the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils (up from 43 percent currently). Applicant demand for those grants has far outpaced revenues available thus far; the state arts board can now only fund about half the eligible incoming requests for grants and services. MCA's director, Sheila Smith, says funneling more of Legacy Amendment monies to the state arts board also ensures that grants drawn from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund will be fairly distributed across all of the state's 87 districts, according to a rigorous, transparent adjudication process. "We are concerned about some bills that would earmark the resources intended for all Minnesotans to benefit only a few," allocating a disproportionate share of the fund to benefit one district at the expense of the others, she says.
Additionally, the group will urge legislators to vote against tax reform proposals that would extend new sales taxes to cover nonprofit organizations' activities (including ticket sales, e.g.). MCA argues that such an expansion effectively "puts a tax on donations," because ticket sales, along with charitable giving and volunteer labor, add up vital part of Minnesota nonprofits' fundraising strategies. What's more, "taking away the sales tax exemption for nonprofit tickets increases costs just when nonprofits are reeling from the effects of the recession," the press release reads.
Advocates will gather early tomorrow morning at the Minnesota History Center for a rally that includes a performance by The New Standards before heading to the capitol. You can read more about tomorrow's agenda here.(0 Comments)
According to a new report that examines arts jobs, consumer spending and revenue of arts organizations, Minneapolis' arts economy is close to five times the national average.
The report, commissioned by the City of Minneapolis, uses data compiled by Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), to examine aspects of the local creative economy that have never been measured before. It calls this data collection the "Creative Vitality Index" or CVI.
Author Guldun Kayim says many studies only track arts institutions, and ignore the independent artists who work in multiple fields.
"This report looks at creative jobs," explained Kayim. "Not just fine arts, but from the broader perspective of highly creative occupations - design, architecture, broadcast - things people don't normally measure as an arts career, but are highly creative."
The data measures the Minneapolis metro area down to the ZIP code level of detail.
The report finds that the creative sector injects approximately $700 million into the economy in a single year. $430 million of that is in retail sales: tickets to shows, the purchase of artwork, etc.
Kayim says that's 70% of the size of Minneapolis sports sector revenues.
"While we didn't match sports, the fact that we came this close without the equivalent in stadiums I think is pretty damn good," said Kayim. "We don't have the facilities that sports organizations do, but we are still managing to have a huge impact."
To put it in perspective, Target Field seats close to 40,000 people. The Guthrie Theater seats 2,000.
Gulgun Kayim says the findings reveal some interesting trends. Of the $430 million in retail revenue, 49% came from gallery sales.
"We don't have a gallery scene of great significance," said Kerr. "I mean we have some great galleries, but not with a large density. What we do have is a great network of artist studios who host events like Art-A-Whirl and other art crawls. So it appears these smaller venues, all combined, are having a big impact."
In the coming weeks, City of Minneapolis staffers will present the more detailed findings of the report to stakeholders.
Ahead of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area are Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston.(1 Comments)
GiveMN, the website which provides a central fundraising terminal for Minnesota non-profits and schools, will likely have to increase the fee it charges for online donations.
Currently the transaction fee is 2.9%; the fee goes to Razoo.com, the platform provider for GiveMN's website.
Beginning April 1, 2013 Razoo.com is almost doubling its transaction fee for its clients to 4.9%.
GiveMN Executive Director Dana Nelson says Razoo.com has given GiveMN an extension; they are currently negotiating when that extension will expire. Once that happens, Nelson admits GiveMN rates are 'likely to increase.'
"We are fighting for Minnesota nonprofits and schools," said Nelson. "As a not-for-profit ourselves, our goal is to continue to offer low cost, high value online giving resources to Minnesota nonprofits, schools and donors."
Nelson says her organization is negotiating with Razoo to get the best possible rate.
SPCO President Dobby West says his administration has submitted a "play and talk" proposal to the Musician Negotiating Committee.
The proposal contains several provisos, but if accepted by the American Federation of Musicians and the local union would allow the SPCO to resume its season.
Chair of the SPCO Musicians Negotiating Committee Carole Mason-Smith says they are still reviewing the details of management's new offer, but that at first review the proposal does not appear to reflect what is customarily meant by the term "play and talk."(0 Comments)
A group formed to bridge the gap between musicians and management in the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra negotiations today proposed raising three-quarters of a million dollars a year to maintain the SPCO at 34 players.
Management wants to reduce the number to 28 for financial reasons, But Mariellen Jacobson of the group Save Our SPCO says a survey of its 2500 members finds they would be prepared to donate money to keep the full orchestral complement.
"We think it is really do-able on a grassroots level to go out and find $750,000 to help the Society to get the funds to continue to employ a full 34 person orchestra at a reasonable salary without employing draconian cuts in the salaries of the musicians."
Jacobson says for the proposal to work the four month long musicians lockout needs to end.
A representative of SPCO management described a meeting with the group as productive, and management will consider the specifics of the proposal.
Editor's note: this update reported by Euan Kerr(0 Comments)
Sandy Spieler is hoping to clear up some misconceptions.
Spieler, the Artistic Director of In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, realized there's some confusion out there about the annual May Day Festival, which her theater organizes.
The event, which starts each year with a community parade starring large puppets, and eventually ends in Powderhorn Park with a ceremony celebrating the earth, draws as many as 50,000 people.
"Many people think that the City of Minneapolis or the Park Board sponsors the May Day Festival: that's not true," says Spieler. "We are the sole sponsor of May Day, so when May Day doesn't meet it's own budget the rest of the theater takes the hit. And in recent years new city and park regulations have meant that we actually have more expenses."
May Day Parade
Image courtesy of In the Heart of the Beast
Spieler says the parade and festival are funded primarily out of individual donations made in the weeks leading up to the festival and on the day of the event itself. But last year the parade had to be postponed a week due to standing water in Powderhorn Park; as a result attendance was lower. The year before that the weather was frigid.
"People came but didn't linger," says Spieler, "and so all the ways we raise money on the day of the event just didn't meed predictions."
The end result is that In the Heart of the Beast is getting ready to prepare this year's festival with a third less of the money it usually has at its disposal.
But Spieler isn't looking for a big sponsor to come in and save the day. In fact, that's the last thing she wants.
"The May Day parade and festival came out of the idea of a large public celebration, created by and for the people. I really believe it can be supported that way. And if everybody who came to May Day gave $5 we'd be fine, end of story."
Some of the costs of the community event are fixed: park fees, security fees, Porta Potties, etc. That's meant that cuts have had to come from the artistic staff.
"Last year I hired 14 artists and this year I hired 7," Spieler explains, "and the people running the festival were cut back as well. The part I feel sad about is that I'm usually hiring intern level positions, so there's a lot of training going on. This year instead we're increasing the number of volunteers. We have wonderful volunteers, but we always want to be training in the next generation in order to stay sustainable."
Spieler recently wrote an article detailing the funding challenges in the Phillips community newspaper; it was then picked up by TC Daily Planet and Southside Pride. She's seen a few hundred dollars come in since then, but the budget for May Day totals close to $130,000. Heart of the Beast will also be sending out a mail appeal, and there will be a dinner at the start of the annual puppet-making workshops.
"When people go to a play, you pay money," says Spieler, "and the May Day is a big theatrical event. It takes a lot of work - joyful work - to make it happen."
This year marks the May Day Parade's 39th year. Spieler says she hopes community support will be able to sustain it for future generations.
SPCO musicians say they are trying to speed up the negotiation process, in fear that the 101-day lockout could drag on for several weeks longer.
In their latest counter proposal, SPCO musicians agreed to reduce their annual salary 20% for the 2012-2013 season, 17% for the 2013-2014 season and 15% for the 2015-2016 season.
They are requesting that management responds no later than Friday, February 1.
Representatives of the locked-out musicians of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra say they continue to have objections to a compensation package proposed by management.
They are particularly opposed a two-tier pay system. Under that proposal, any new musicians joining the orchestra will earn $10,000 a year less than current players.
Last week SPCO interim president Dobson West offered some concessions, including a guarantee that no current musicians will be laid off as the orchestra moves from 34 to 28 players.
However, musicians' negotiator Carol Mason Smith said that in reality the major concessions have been on the part of the musicians.
"We have made concessions as far as the complement of the orchestra, the number of musicians," she said. "We've made compensation concessions, and we are still not seeing the similar kind of drastic change that we have made, we are not seeing it from our management yet."
Osmo Vänskä will conduct the Minnesota Orchestra on February 1 in a concert celebrating the orchestra's Grammy nomination.
They will perform Jean Sibelius' Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5, their recording of which was nominated for Best Orchestral Performance.
The event begins at 8pm in the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium.
As of this writing, approximately 170 tickets are still available; they range from $20 to $60.
This is the first time they have performed together since July 19, when Vänskä conducted the orchestra's performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 at Sommerfest.
The event is the brainchild of Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minnesota Orchestra benefactor Judy Dayton, in an attempt to release tensions in what has been a heated contract dispute.
Any revenue after expenses will go into an account to put on future educational concerts. The musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will control the account. John Stiles with the City of Minneapolis says "It's important to note that all of whatever proceeds there are will go into this fund, and none will go into any aspect of the labor dispute."(0 Comments)
There are indications that contract negotiations are moving ahead between the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra management and musicians. This afternoon SPCO President Dobson West sent out a letter to constituents with a detailed update.
MPR's Euan Kerr is calling out for interviews right now with both management and the musicians; in the meantime, here's West's letter.
Dear Members of the SPCO Family,(1 Comments)
I am writing to update you on the status of the negotiations with the Musicians. As you know, on Thursday January 17th the Musicians terminated the off-the-record discussions and we canceled concerts through March 23rd.
Shortly after that announcement, we formally submitted to the Musician Negotiating Committee a new on-the-record offer that contained significant concessions intended to address what we understand to be the Musicians' major concerns. Those concessions include the following:
• No current Musician will lose his/her job via position elimination.
The Musicians have expressed their concern that a reduction in the size of the orchestra could lead to current Musicians losing their jobs. After carefully studying the list of positions eligible for the Special Retirement Package, we determined that if five Musicians retire from a specific list of non-principal positions, the Society will be left with an artistically viable instrumentation for the Orchestra and we will not need to eliminate the job of any current Musician.
We have also proposed that there will not be less than 27 positions in the Orchestra and that the Society will consult with the Artistic Vision Committee (AVC) and at least one Artistic Partner in determining the size and instrumentation of the Orchestra.
• Salaries will increase during the contract.
The Musicians have expressed their concern that salaries do not increase during the life of the contract. Our previous offer provided for a minimum guaranteed annual salary of $50,000 for all Musicians with minimum guaranteed annual overscale for all current Musicians of $12,500 per year, resulting in a flat minimum guaranteed compensation of $62,500 for all current Musicians for the life of the contract. In addition, all Musicians will have the right to negotiate for additional compensation in their individual contracts.
Our revised offer provides for the base annual compensation of $50,000 to increase to $51,000 in FY15 and $52,000 in FY16. When combined with guaranteed overscale, current Musicians would receive a guaranteed minimum of $62,500 in FY14, $63,500 in FY15 and $64,500 in FY16 (plus any individually negotiated overscale).
In addition, our revised offer provides for a $10,000 one-time bonus to be paid to each current Musician upon execution and ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement.
• Insurance benefits will be guaranteed.
The Musicians have expressed their concern that insurance benefits could be canceled or dramatically changed at any time. While this was never our intent, in our revised offer we have proposed that insurance levels not change during the term of the collective bargaining agreement except in the same way it can change today or due to health care reform, in which cases any changes would be made in consultation with the Orchestra Committee.
• Musicians will continue to have the artistic input they have today.
While the Musicians continue to claim that our proposals take away their artistic control, this is simply not true. Our proposal does not contain any substantial changes in the audition process, the tenure process, the artistic review process, the Artistic Vision Committee or the Artistic Personnel Committee.
It is possible that this claim was made in response to our proposal to change the size and instrumentation of the Orchestra. We believe we have addressed this concern as indicated above: by proposing a path forward in which no Musician is terminated through position elimination and by proposing that decisions about the size and instrumentation of the orchestra be made with input from the Artistic Vision Committee (which includes three Musicians) and at least one Artistic Partner.
There is obviously more to our proposal, and if you are interested, the entire proposal can be read here.
On Tuesday evening, we received a response from the Musicians in the form of a new proposal. We have several questions and are not in a position to fully evaluate or respond to it without first resolving these questions. We have sent our questions to the Musician Negotiating Committee, and we have requested additional meeting dates. If you are interested, you can read the Musicians' proposal here.
With this latest exchange of proposals, we feel that we are making progress toward a solution that is both financially and artistically viable. We will continue to work at finding a solution, and will keep you posted as we have news to share.
Dobson West, President
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Today Ann Ledy, the President of the College of Visual Arts, announced her resignation in a brief letter.
I have done absolutely everything in my power to promote the success of the college and I want nothing more then for it to thrive. Unfortunately the economy and the financial circumstances have made it impossible for our dreams to be achieved. I am devastated by this reality and I know that you are too.
Today I decided that it is best for the college that I step aside at this time. I wish all of you the best.
The news comes in the wake of last week's announcement that the school will be closing on June 30 for financial reasons.
The decision to close came as a shock both to current students and alumnae, many of whom are still hoping to reverse the decision.
This evening they met with CVA's Board of Trustees; members of the press showed up to cover the meeting, but they were asked to leave by the board.(7 Comments)
Bill King, President of the Minnesota Council on Foundations, has announced his plans to retire at the end of June.
King has served as president for 12 years, and been with the MCF for a total of 25 years.
The MCF serves as a network of funders as well as a resource for both grant makers and grant seekers. Combined, members of the MCF give approximately $1 billion in grants annually.
The search for Bill King's successor will be conducted by a search committee of the board.
Students of the College of Visual Arts are processing the news that their alma mater will close at the end of the spring semester.
College of Visual Arts' office building on Summit Avenue
For Theresa Ganzer, continuing her education would mean transferring for the second time:
At first I thought it was a bad joke. I literally started crying, this was so random and without warning. I am freaked out still, and this is a lot of unwanted stress. I originally was only worried about my internship next year...now I'm worried if I'll be in school or not next year.
I am a transfer student to CVA, I already have my 2 year associates degree. My original plan was to go to CVA for 4 years, doing the long route and obtaining my bachelors after 6. Now, this is my fourth year of college, I will have 2 more left after CVA's closing to get my bachelors. for me the most logical thing in my position is to open up to MCAD and give them a chance, especially if they understand CVA's position and are willing to work with the students. I'm nervous about transferring credits however, because the transition from Inver Hills to CVA, I had to take classes over. Hopefully, the transferring of credits will be smooth sailing.
CVA was my DREAM school, everything about it screamed my name, it felt right to go there. It was in a mansion, small classes that became a small community, it was dog friendly. Everyone was so nice, the professors knew you as an individual, It's going to be impossible to get that experience anywhere else.
From Sawyer Rademacher, Sophomore Photography Major at The College of Visual Arts, the loss is a deeply personal one:
When I first visited CVA for a tour I felt very comfortable, a feeling that stayed with me over the past year and a half. The staff here are all so friendly and knowledgeable and they all seem very eager to form close relationships. Whenever I would talk with friends about the different schools we were attending I always enjoyed bragging that I knew my instructors by their first names and even some of their personal cell numbers, just in case of an emergency I could get in contact with them or vice versa. The people that I've met and the skills I've learned I know will stay with me for the rest of my life and I feel as though I am losing a second home. I wish the best for all my classmates and the teachers and staff of CVA in the future. The Twin Cities is losing a truly special school.
Are you a current student at CVA? Share your reaction to the school's closing in the comments section.
The College of Visual Arts will close its doors at the end of June.
The four year art and design school saw a sharp decline in enrollment just as it was attempting to build up its financial base. President Ann Ledy said the school is simply no longer able to fill the gap between rising operating costs and students' ability to pay.
"We will meet all of our students academic needs and financial needs this next semester," vowed Ledy, "we want to do the right thing by our students and help them transition on to MCAD or other institutions."
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design has agreed to take on all those students in good academic standing who would be seniors next year. The remaining students will need to apply for a transfer.
The College of Visual Arts occupies several buildings in the Ramsey Hill neighborhood of St. Paul, including this former residence on Summit Avenue.
Image courtesy the College of Visual Arts
The loss of the school will be a blow to the Ramsey Hill neighborhood of St. Paul, where many students rented apartments and frequented local cafes and bookstores.
The College of Visual Arts currently serves 170 students. It employs 29 full time staff and faculty, and 45 adjunct professors. It has had to reduce faculty and staff compensation three times in the past five years, and cut seven positions this past fall, including a recently created director of development.
At this point, any further cuts would risk the schools accreditation.
Spring classes will begin as scheduled on January 22.
Read the full story here.(1 Comments)
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced this week that it has awarded 14 theater companies in the U.S. grants to fully fund playwrights on staff for three years.
Two of those companies are in the Twin Cities.
The grant program is aimed at helping advance the work of American playwrights, while evaluating the impact of having a playwright embedded in the staff of a working theater company.
The fellowship supports and deepens what is already a longstanding working relationship between Ten Thousand Things and Kira Obolensky. Obolensky has written two plays for the company: Raskol (an adaptation of Crime and Punishment) and Vasa Lisa, a production based on Russian folk tales.
As part of the fellowship, Obolensky plans to write three plays for TTT, conduct workshops for prison audiences and assist Hensley in writing a book about the work of the theater company.
Playwright Qui Nguyen is known for incorporating comic-book style narratives and game play into his politically subversive productions, including his recent War is F**king Awesome developed at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis.
According to Penumbra Theatre Artistic Director Lou Bellamy "reports of our death are greatly, greatly exaggerated."
The Saint Paul theater company announced today that it exceeded its fundraising goal and will resume programming this spring.
Due to an income shortfall in August, Penumbra cut six full-time staff positions and suspended all programming.
Managing director Chris Widdess says the company set a goal to raise 340-thoussand-dollars by the end of 2012.
"We would find out whether what everyone had said all these years about their passion for Penumbra and their commitment to who we are and what we do could really be translated into dollars," said Widdess.
Widdess says she's humbled by the outpouring of support. Over 1,400 individuals, corporations and foundations donated 359-thousand-dollars by December 30, 2012.
Penumbra will stage a production of "Spunk" in mid-March. The play is adapted from Three Tales by Zora Neale Hurston and will feature T. Mychael Rambo, Dennis W. Spears, Jevetta Steele, and Austene Van.
WIddess says the company has also committed to develop a seven-year business plan to ensure its financial stability while also addressing 'artistic and administrative succession.'
The Minnesota Orchestral Association has invited the Musicians' Union to negotiate a new contract once again.
The MOA has put out two possible dates - Saturday January 5 or Wednesday January 9. The invitation to negotiate has been made "without any preconditions."
The Minnesota Orchestra has also cancelled or rescheduled all concert performances through Sunday, February 10. Ticket holders will be contacted directly by the Orchestra to outline their options, including exchanging their tickets, or receiving a refund.
Earlier this month the Minnesota Orchestra disclosed that it has a $6 million deficit for its fiscal year ending Aug. 31. The Minnesota Orchestra musicians have been locked out since the beginning of October.(5 Comments)
Last week the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra announced a deficit of $895,080 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012.
Today, SPCO Board Chair Dobby West cited that deficit as confirmation that the orchestra needs to make substantial long-term budget cuts in order to remain a viable institution.
"Simply put," wrote West in a letter to subscribers, "we can no longer afford to provide 34 musicians with $115,000 in average salary and benefits for 33 weeks of performances. Significantly reducing the cost of the contract is a necessary next step in ensuring the SPCO's future."
West stated the board has waited for a month to receive a counterproposal from the SPCO musicians, but has been presented nothing.
With that in mind, it has canceled concerts through February 8.
West says the board "remains ready to meet and negotiate as soon as our Musicians have an offer prepared."
However Euan Kerr reports that same board has rejected musician offers to 'play and talk.'
The musicians say management's contract proposal, which would cut the guaranteed salary of current musicians to $62,500 a year and new musicians to $50,000, is not respectful and will lead to the demise of the orchestra.
The musicians posit that the SPCO has saved about $1.5 million as a result of the lock out. The players have said it is time for them to come back both to the negotiating table and the concert hall, musician negotiating committee member Lynn Erickson said.
"We would love to be able to play and talk," Erickson said. "We would love to be able to come back in January and start playing concerts again."
You can learn more about both sides of the contract negotiations here.(2 Comments)
Representative Phyllis Kahn worries the Minnesota Orchestra's Board of Directors is eroding the artistic integrity of a cultural treasure.
Kahn explained her concerns in Minnpost, charging that the board is unfairly placing the financial burden of balancing the budget on the musicians:
Recognizing the importance the orchestra plays in enhancing our standard of living, I was supportive of the $16 million in bonding dollars recently granted to the Minnesota Orchestra to renovate Orchestra Hall and Peavey Plaza. Additionally, I have been supportive of the funding it has received from the Arts Board - including Legacy dollars - that have been awarded over the past four years to help with operating costs.
I did not support distributing public dollars to the Minnesota Orchestra so they could cut their musicians pay by 30 to 50 percent. Nor did I vote in favor of these funds so they could lock out musicians who, in recognizing this financial slight, have made efforts to engage in arbitration or have offered to continue working under the old contract until both sides can reach an amicable agreement. And I certainly did not vote to send these funds to the orchestra to have them resist any attempts to make their budget more transparent.
Kahn goes on to state that "there is no use in... funneling state dollars into operating costs for an organization that has locked out those who make it function."
The Minnesota Orchestral Association is holding its annual meeting today. This year it's taking place behind closed doors, without the typical performances by orchestra musicians to punctuate the proceedings.
In an interview with Morning Edition's Cathy Wurzer, Chicago-based arts consultant Drew McManus said that, compared with many other orchestral negotiations across the country, the Minnesota Orchestra's situation is "particularly bad."
McManus said that at this point the orchestra is risking the loyalty of its audience. But there's still hope for resolution.
"When it's gotten to this level of animosity it's not unusual for the dispute to become more about winning the fight than whatever the issues were to begin with - it becomes personal on both sides. And it's very difficult for individuals in both stakeholder camps to step back from that. The thing I talk about a lot with clients in this situation is you have to find a way to provide an opportunity for both sides to save face with a solution, so that somebody doesn't have to lose in order for someone else to win."
Meanwhile, Russel Platt writes in The New Yorker that the trouble in the Twin Cities points to a shift in culture:
For decades, the situation for classical-music lovers there has been almost impossibly generous. Minneapolis-St. Paul is the only major metropolitan center in the country that boasts not one but two world-class symphony orchestras: another way in which Twin Citians, who sometimes speak of their home with an affectionate affliction that even many in-state call Shangri-La Syndrome, can claim to be "above average." (There is also the Minnesota Opera, a prominent regional-level company, a bevy of superb choruses, and a vibrant new-music scene.) In truth, they have much to boast about: one is indeed lucky to live in a metro area where, to paraphrase Garrison Keillor, you can have your pick of great restaurants and world-class cultural events but still live on a tree-lined street and send your kids to a public school. (It is also an attractive place to be a working-class composer, hence my long residency.)
Platt charges today's wealthy aren't as interested in classical music as their parents were. And the liberal golden age of Hubert Humphrey has given way to "the brave new world of Michele Bachmann."
...the Twin Cities musicians need to remember that their peers were forced to give in in Detroit, Atlanta, and Indianapolis, all comparable institutions. Only a mutual love of the art form will keep players and management on the same map; beyond that, there be dragons.
Do you see any hope for resolution between the musicians and the management?
Posted at 11:29 AM on November 28, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
The National Endowment for the Arts has announced its grants for 2013, and out of 832 awards totaling $23.3 million, Minnesota arts organizations claimed 28 grants for a total of $877,500.
NEA grants are not spread equally across the country; New York received a total of 236 grants amounting to more than $7 million, while neither North Dakota nor South Dakota received any grants at all.
Minnesota ranked 8th in the amount of money it received from the NEA; here's who placed ahead of it:
1. New York 236 grants $7,036,000
2. California 136 grants $3,730,500
3. Illinois 38 grants $1,106,000
4. Massachusetts 33 grants $1,050,000
5. Texas 37 grants $1,045,000
6. Pennsylvania 39 grants $973,000
7. Dis. of Colombia 23 grants $900,000
Here are a few of the more interesting grants to make the list:
College of Saint Benedict
St. Joseph, MN
CATEGORY: Art Works FIELD/DISCIPLINE: Presenting
To support the presentation of multidisciplinary artists throughout Minnesota for underserved audiences. Writer Diane Ackerman, poet and hip-hop artist Dessa, and musician Simon Shaheen will participate in performances and workshops for audiences including at-risk youth, residents of a domestic abuse shelter, the elderly and their caregivers, and immigrant communities.
Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts (aka Minneapolis Institute of Arts)
CATEGORY: Art Works FIELD/DISCIPLINE: Museum
To support the research phase for the exhibition Eugene Delacroix and Modernity. Co-organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the National Gallery, London, the exhibition will comprise approximately 70 oil paintings. In addition to Delacroix (1798- 1863), the exhibition will include works by Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Renoir, Courbet, Degas, and others.
Minnesota Museum of American Art
St. Paul, MN
CATEGORY: Art Works FIELD/DISCIPLINE: Museum
To support a retrospective exhibition and catalogue of the Native American modernist George Morrison (1919-2000). The exhibition will include more than 80 artworks spanning the breadth of Morrison's career, from his early figurative drawings and regionalist paintings of the 1940s to the monumental abstract landscapes and wood sculptures of the 1970s, and his late 20th-century drawings and paintings.
CATEGORY: Art Works FIELD/DISCIPLINE: Visual Arts
To support the re-creation of Marcel Breuer's St. Paul house (1962) that will be floated down the Mississippi River as part of the Northern Spark nuit blanche festival. Minnesota artist Chris Larson will work with Professor of Architecture Charlie Lazor, a group of graduate architecture and BFA students from the University of Minnesota, and the current owner of Marcel Breuer's Frank Kacmarcik home to recreate it to scale following the original architectural plans, using wood frame, cardboard, and paint. Set on a solid floating platform, the house will float on the river and then be set on fire as a symbolic act of celebration and destruction.
St. Catherine University (on behalf of The O'Shaughnessy Auditorium)
St. Paul, MN
CATEGORY: Art Works FIELD/DISCIPLINE: Dance
To support the presentation of artists in the Women of Substance program at The O'Shaughnessy Auditorium, as well as a residency program for middle school girls in Saint Paul public schools. Artists to be presented include Bebe Miller Company; Emily Johnson/Catalyst; FLY: Five First Ladies of Dance (Germaine Acogny, Carmen de Lavallade, Dianne McIntyre, Bebe Miller and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar); and Gallim Dance/Andrea Miller.
You can find a complete list of Minnesota grantees here.
Locked out Minnesota Orchestra musicians say a Star Tribune report supports their argument for an independent financial analysis of the orchestra.
The report contends the orchestra drew deeply from its endowment in 2009 and 2010 to cover growing deficits at a time when it was requesting public money for an Orchestra Hall renovation. According to the report, it later drew less money from investments and declared a 2-point-nine million dollar deficit when it was demanding dramatic pay reductions from its musicians.
The report, based on hundreds of pages of financial information and orchestra board meeting minutes, raises questions as to whether the orchestra covered deficits with money from its endowment to both win public funding for an Orchestra Hall lobby renovation and later demand deep salary reductions from its players.
Chair of the musicians' negotiating committee Tim Zavadil said the report illustrates the need for an independent financial analysis of the orchestra.
"In order for us to get to the bottom of where the orchestra's finances are, we have to have an independent third party come in here, someone that is trusted by both sides that can verify where the actual true financial position is," said Zavadil.
According to Minnesota Orchestra President Michael Henson the orchestra was responding to one of the worst recessions in American history and its decisions were geared toward inspiring confidence and preparing the orchestra for a new financial future.
"All of us, whether you're running a for profit, or not-for-profit, have had to manage through tumultuous times, and find your own solutions as to how to maintain confidence, and at the same time facilitate change in all aspects of your organization, or in this case, the orchestra."
The Minnesota Orchestra says it was trying to cope with loss of revenue when it borrowed from endowments and tried to cut musicians' pay. The musicians have been locked out since October 1rst because of a contract dispute with the orchestra.(5 Comments)
While the cancellation of concerts is the most public result of the lockout of musicians at both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, music educators are concerned about the lockouts' long-term impact on their students.
Julia Bogorad-Kogan, the SPCO's principal flutist, and David Wright III work through scales and pieces during a lesson in her St. Paul home. Bogorad-Kogan and many more locked-out musicians at both the SPCO and the Minnesota Orchestra are taking on extra students as a way to earn some income during the lockout. (MPR Photo/Euan Kerr)
As MPR's Euan Kerr reports, many orchestra musicians are taking on more lessons, but young musicians no longer have the major orchestras to look to for inspiration:
An important part of being in the Minnesota Youth Symphony is regularly hearing the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO play.
"My kids don't have any concerts to go to," [co-director Manny Laureano] said with a frustrated laugh. "This is like having a class that studies Shakespeare, and never taking them to plays."
Laureano acknowledged that missing a few weeks won't hurt, but he worries about the dispute dragging on and the orchestras not playing for months.
Back at McPhail Center for Music Paul Babcock is worried too about the long-term impact of the contract fight. He sad if the orchestras are weakened, it's going to hurt everyone in the arts.
"If the two orchestras end up in a less-desirable state than they are today, or for some reason the orchestras don't exist, that will be a real tragedy for the Twin Cities," he said. "The whole ecosystem of the arts community needs both of those orchestras to exist and to be strong."
But with concerts at both the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO cancelled through the end of the year, and no negotiations currently scheduled at either, there is little to ease Babcock's concern.
You can find out more about the effects of the orchestra lockouts here.
In its fourth year, Give to the Max Day set new records for fundraising, despite technical glitches which plagued the website for much of the day.
At midnight, GiveMN.org's ticker showed that 53,339 donors raised $16,391,905 for 4,381 Minnesota nonprofits.
Those are new records across the board.
In past years revised totals have been issued the following day - it remains to be seen whether site crashes experienced by donors throughout the day had a significant impact on the accuracy of the tally.
Some of the increase can be attributed to the addition of several public schools to the pool of participating organizations.
Past years' totals were:
2009: 38,000 donors raised $14 million for 3,141 MN nonprofits
2010: 42,596 donors raised $10 million for 3,663 MN nonprofits
2011: 47,537 donors raised $13,559,530 for 3,978 MN nonprofits
Additional cash prizes went to the top three fundraisers in each of four categories. They are:
MAIN LEADERBOARD (all nonprofits except colleges and universities)
1 Cretin-Derham Hall
2 Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners
3 Second Harvest Heartland
1 Shir Tikvah Congregation
2 Wildcat Sanctuary
3 LISTENING HOUSE OF ST PAUL INC
1 WHITE DOVE FOUNDATION
2 MINNESOTA SHELTIE RESCUE
3 A Rotta Love Plus
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
1 St. Olaf College
2 CONCORDIA COLLEGE CORPORATION
3 College of Saint Benedict
According to tonight's tally, people gave an average of $11,383 a minute to Minnesota nonprofits and schools over the past 24 hours.(4 Comments)
This Thursday, public schools across the state also have a chance to get in on the action.
GiveMN Executive Director Dana Nelson says up until this year many schools (either charter schools with a non-profit status, or schools that have a nonprofit PTA) have been able to participate, but some public schools were left out.
"There's been this small island of schools that haven't been able to use GiveMN and our online fundraising. And online fundraising continues to grow as a great way to find new donors and efficiently raise money. So now finally we've been able to come up with a solution and add them to our website."
The solution involves some new software which downloads data from the Minnesota Department of Education, similar to how GiveMN accesses nonprofits' 990 tax forms to create their web pages.
"It's a slightly different process. Non-profits don't have to sign up, they have a process where they update their pages, but they're already on GiveMN. However public schools are not automatically on the site - they do have to register. They have to sign up and get a principal or superintendent to sign off."
Nelson says RAZOO, the technology company that powers GiveMN, is now looking at using the Minnesota model for schools nationwide.
"So Minnesota, once again a leader, out in front," cheers Nelson.
GiveMN is also doubling the number of "golden tickets" it issues throughout the day. Last year a donor was selected at random each hour and given $1,000 to pass on to the nonprofit of his or her choosing. In addition one person was given a ticket worth $10,000 to donate.
This year two tickets will be given out each hour, one to be given to a non-profit, the other to be given to a school. Similarly, two tickets will be issued for $10,000.
As in past years, there is a 2.9% processing fee taken out of donations to cover credit card and disbursement fees. And the Mall of America will be the headquarters for Give to the Max Day from 9am - 9pm.
Some school principals are volunteering to ride the mall's roller coaster for hours at a time to help inspire giving.
And artist Eyenga Bokamba will paint and assemble 24 canvases at the mall over the course of the day.
"It's the first time we've tried this," explains Nelson. "And why this is important to us is, I think it's challenging to express the magnitude of what happens on that day and how much is given and how many people give. It's a huge thing but people are doing it on computers and on their phones - and all around the world - making an impact in Minnesota. So what Eyenga is attempting to do is express that through this public art piece, with the 24 canvases representing the 24 hours."
Of the thousand of Minnesota nonprofits in existence, Nelson says only three have formally requested that GiveMN take their name off the fundraising site. Nelson attributes the organization's popular success with its focus on simplicity:
"Our strategy is to make it as easy as possible - Give to the Max Day is at the right time of year, we put out tools, and help nonprofits figure out how to promote it via social media while being strategic about it, too."
Nelson says Minnesota nonprofits have taken ownership of Give to the Max Day, turning it into a sort of nonprofit holiday.
Last year people gave a total of $13.4 million to close to 4,000 Minnesota nonprofits - the most ever given on a single day in an online giving event.
Will people be as generous this Thursday as they were last year? Nelson can't say.
"Our goal is very big and broad. Our hope is that we raise millions of dollars for thousands of nonprofits and schools in one day. We hope for big results like last year but we'll be pleased with really whatever happens. In all honesty if it's five million, ten million - it's all so good!"
This is the first time that Give to the Max Day has taken place on the heels of a presidential election, so it remains to be seen whether people's political donations of the last few months have an impact on their giving to schools and non-profits on Thursday.
Movie star Brad Pitt is giving a total of $100,000 to the Human Rights Campaign in the hopes that it will motivate others to do the same in the final days before this year's election.
The Human Rights Campaign is the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, and has been lobbying in favor of marriage equality in key states.
$25,000 of Pitt's contribution is going to their work here in Minnesota. The rest is going toward efforts in Maine, Maryland and Washington State.
"It's unbelievable to me that people's lives and relationships are literally being voted on in a matter of days," said Pitt in an email today to HRC members and supporters. "If you're like me, you don't want to have to ask yourself on the day after the election, what else could I have done?"
You can find out more about Minnesota's marriage amendment here.
In a vote today by secret ballot, the Musicians of the SPCO unanimously rejected management's latest contract proposal.
In a statement released this afternoon, musicians said they rejected the offer on the grounds that it would allow SPCO management "to terminate musicians at any time with no recourse, drastically reduce their salary and benefits, and even more drastically lower the guaranteed salary of musicians yet to join the Orchestra."
Management calculated the proposal would cut wages by 14 percent, but musicians argued the cuts actually amounted to 33 percent. The four year contract proposal would have also reduced the number of SPCO players from 34 to 28, and offered buy-outs to musicians aged 55 or older. That's about half the current players.
SPCO concerts through Sunday are currently cancelled. In the wake of today's rejection, further cancellations are likely.
In Minneapolis the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra remain locked out.(1 Comments)
There is a very good chance that come Monday morning the two top orchestras of the region will be silenced.
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra musicians rallied Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, outside the Ordway Center in an attempt to forestall a feared lock out by the orchestra's management.
MPR Photo/Euan Kerr
As MPR's Euan Kerr reports, management of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra today told its musicians that unless there is a contract agreement by 6 p.m. Sunday it will lock them out.
The deal now before the musicians is a four-year contract that sets a guaranteed minimum annual salary for current musicians at $62,500, and a base rate of $50,000 for new musicians. It cuts the size of the orchestra from 34 to 28 players and it offers buyouts to musicians aged 55 and older. West describes the cut as a 15 percent reduction.
"I understand that it is difficult for musicians to accept reductions in compensation. That's a normal occurrence. But we are where we are," [SPCO interim President Dobson] West said. "We need to reduce the cost of that contract and the musicians need to acknowledge that fact and then we will find a solution."
Musicians said they have been trying to be part of the solution and management has not been interested. A statement they released called the lockout deadline "dangerous and disingenuous." Lead negotiator for the musicians Carole Mason Smith said they have twice offered to take a pay cut so they can continue to play and talk.
"We have made proposals and they have completely ignored those proposals," Smith said.
Smith says management seems to be trying to put the musicians on the same level as other SPCO employees.
"We might be 40 percent of the budget, but we are 100 percent of the product" she said. "And their proposal does not in any way exhibit that."
If the SPCO carries out its threat, it will be the first time in history that both the musicians of SPCO and the Minnesota Orchestra are locked out at the same time.
You can find the rest of the story here.(1 Comments)
The Duluth Festival Opera, or DFO as it's known, will come to an end in 2013.
The Duluth Festival Opera's concert Three Terrific Tenors from August, 2005
Photo by Ken Pogin
According to Artistic Director Craig Fields, the DFO simply is not receiving the kind of community financial support it needs to survive.
Over its eight year history the DFO has become known for staging high quality opera, occasionally bringing in talent from the Metropolitan Opera to perform. In 2008, the DFO was awarded the Duluth Depot Foundation's prestigious "Cultural Enrichment Award."
In 2011 the DFO was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Cultural Heritage Fund to tour an opera by a Minnesotan composer. It performed Linda Tutas Haugen's Pocahontas, a Woman of Two Worlds, in Duluth, Grand Rapids, Ely and Burnsville
Still, foundation support and ticket sales have steadily declined since 2009.
But Fields says that doesn't this doesn't necessarily mark the end for the company. Fields, a resident of the Twin Ciites, wants to relocate the company to the metro area with a new board, under a new name.
"I want to come up with a viable method to produce opera in the Twin Cities and tour it to places like Duluth," says Fields. "My vision would be to produce opera on a smaller scale but with the same quality singing as the Minnesota Opera."
Fields says he admires the work of companies like Mixed Precipitation, which bring opera to unusual settings in order to reach new audiences.
"You close a door and a new one opens," says Fields. "We had a great eight year ride, and we're trying to end on a positive note."
The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has made a new offer to its musicians and set a new deadline.
Photo by Sarah Rubenstein
In contract talks that finished today, the SPCO put forth a new proposal that's basically the same as the previous one but extends its duration from three to four years and includes a one-time payment of $2,000.00 per musician in the fourth year.
It also told musicians it would give them until Tuesday to respond.
The musicians say they need more information on the new proposal before they can respond in any time frame.
The musicians also told the orchestra they wouldn't be available to meet again for further negotiations until November 3.
Both sides are expressing frustration with the talks. In a prepared statement, SPCO Interim President Dobson West said,
"It should come as no surprise that we are frustrated by the lack of progress in these negotiations. The Union and the Society agree that the SPCO faces a significant financial challenge, but the Union continues to reject that a significant reduction in the cost of the contract must be part of the solution. The Union has yet to provide us with a proposal that materially reduces the cost of the contract, and instead continues to insist that our audience and donors shoulder the burden. Meanwhile, each day that we continue to operate under the expired contract, we add to our deficit. We have been willing to "play and talk" because we want to keep the music going, but we cannot continue to operate this way for much longer."
The musicians also released their own statement:
"After the latest round of negotiations.... We're frustrated by the fact that management will not budge even an inch on their short sided proposal that will destroy the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra as we know it. Our latest offer includes a ten percent reduction in compensation that saves management nearly a million dollars over the next three years. Management wants everyone to believe they are offering musicians an additional year on a new contract and at a higher salary. But the truth is - the compensation in that final year is still 30 percent less than what were currently making and the health care costs would offset any increase in salary.
We will continue to play and talk and work hard to reach a resolution... but it has become clear that management is disingenuous when they say they want to preserve the quality of our world class orchestra."
No new talks have been scheduled.(4 Comments)
The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and its musicians met for contract talks today. Since the orchestra's musician contract expired last month, the orchestra has been in what's called 'play & talk' mode, which lets both sides keep negotiating while the musicians continue performing under the old contract. SPCO management proposed that the musicians play and talk under the terms of the orchestra's latest offer, which would cut musician salaries by 15-percent. Musicians rejected the idea.
SPCO Interim President Dobson West says the orchestra would like to continue the 'play and talk' process, but needs to do it in a financially responsible way.
"We cannot afford to continue to play and talk under the current contract. It is just too expensive for us. And at some point, the union needs to acknowledge that we need to have substantial savings from the costs of the contract."
The musicians say they're still digesting the terms of the orchestra's latest offer but say they are not happy with most of it. Trumpet player Lynn Erickson is with the musicians' negotiating committee.
"If we were to accept their proposal right now and play and talk under it, they would start to implement all of the things that they would like to happen under their proposal, and we don't agree with many of the things in their proposal."
Erickson says the musicians offered to continue playing and talking under the old contract but at a reduced base salary rate of $70-thousand a year. The orchestra rejected that approach, saying it would still add to the orchestra's one million dollar deficit..
When asked whether the SPCO was preparing to lock out its musicians, West responded that the orchestra couldn't keep the current 'play and talk' process going much longer. The two sides are scheduled to meet again tomorrow.
Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have announced the program for their concert on October 18, but they will not be honoring tickets for the season opener cancelled by orchestra management.
The musicians will perform Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B Minor, Opus 104 (with Tony Ross on cello) and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Opus 47. The concert will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium at 7:30pm.
Conductor Laureate of the Minnesota Orchestra, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski will conduct the performance. He turned 89 last week.
Orchestra musicians had originally stated they hoped to honor tickets for the season opener that was cancelled by Minnesota Orchestra management as part of the lockout. But according to the musicians' media representative Blois Olson, getting a refund for the tickets from management turned out to be "too complicated."
Tickets to the October 18 concert can be purchased here; they range in price from $15-40 per seat.(3 Comments)
Minnesota Orchestra is not alone in its heated labor negotiations.
As Chris Roberts reports, American orchestras are going through a period of upheaval that may forever alter how they're run and their relationships to their communities.
Horrible economic conditions and menacing long term trends spawned an orchestral tempest which first reached landfall in Detroit and is now sweeping the rest of the country, according to arts and entertainment reporter for the Detroit Free Press, Mark Stryker.
"This hurricane of rising costs, and the recession, and long-range cultural forces that sort of pushed classical music to the sidelines of civic life, these forces created unsustainable models, economic models in many cities, he said.
The financial meltdown of 2008 and resulting 'Great Recession' has also given orchestras an opportunity, said Detroit Symphony Orchestra Music Director Leonard Slatkin, He said they are not only trying to restructure financially but are changing their operational model from arts to more of a business model.
"An arts model said, 'OK, we'll try not to lose so much money,'" Slatkin said. "A business model is 'we're gonna try to make some money.' And 2008 was a very good way to say, 'we can't afford this anymore.' "
Lockouts have become more prevalent in many industries in recent years. John Budd, a labor relations expert at the University of Minnesota, refers to the American Crystal Sugar and NHL lockouts as high profile examples. Budd was unsurprised by the Minnesota Orchestra musicians lockout, but with concerts canceled through Thanksgiving, he thinks this lockout could be a lengthy one.
"At this point I think it's just going to take time for one side or the other to see how serious the other side is in its resolve, and unfortunately have some economic pain imposed on both sides which will eventually bring them back to the bargaining table," Budd said.
You can read the rest of the story here.
While Minnesota Orchestra management and musicians have yet to find a contract they can agree upon, a number of voices are crying foul over the management's approach to negotiations.
Bill Eddins is Music Director of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and co-author of the classical music blog Sticks and Drones. A resident of Minneapolis, Eddins has been following the negotiations closely.
The whole thing smacks of impersonality. There is no feeling in this. Everyone on the payroll is now just to be considered a cog in the wheel, and the output of the machine is supposed to be great music. The "Artist Entrance" should be renamed the "Servants Entrance." That's certainly the gist of the message from management. No matter how bad the situation is there (and it's bad and it has been bad for several years; denial ain't just a river in Egypt) this is no way to go about stabilizing this institution.
Matt Peiken is the creator of the newly launched MNuet.com, a website designed to aggregate information about the Twin Cities classical music scene.
...management's tactic is calculated, craven, callous, corrosive and cowardly--emboldened and made possible, in no small part, by the bullying that has happened in places as disparate as Wisconsin's legislature, Chicago Public Schools, Northern California hospitals and the worker breakrooms of union-allergic Wal-Mart, and championed across the commentariat at the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and the Drudge Report.
By going public, the management of the Minnesota Orchestra told their own musicians they're overpaid--not in context with these economic times, mind you, but in general. Management has refused to open its books to an independent analysis--how well has that worked for Mitt Romney?--and also refused binding arbitration. How do you negotiate with honesty and integrity under this rubric and, at the same time, tell the public you're committed to fielding a world-class orchestra? How do you hope to again work with these musicians from a position of mutual purpose and trust?
Emily Hogstad plays violin in the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra and writes about classical music on her blog Song of the Lark. One of her recent posts lists "ten obfuscations" in a recent Minnesota Orchestra press release, including the statement that" the full-time management and administrative staff have experienced a salary reduction, a wage freeze and more than a 40 percent reduction of their pension contributions from the Orchestral Association."
According to public documents, Michael Henson makes $404,000 a year, which is up from his 2009 salary of $390,000. (According to this Star Tribune article, Salaries drop for nonprofit leaders, this is 1.5x the average for "nonprofits with budgets of $25 million to $50 million," which is $243,000.) I know that others within the organization have sacrificed, and sacrificed greatly, but based on the available public evidence, I'm not convinced their leader did. Shouldn't great leaders lead by example? Of course Henson's salary alone wouldn't fix the financial problem management says they have, but it would send a message about his character. It would send a message about his humanity, and respect, and shared sacrifice. As Andrew Young once observed on the Colbert Report, strikes aren't about money; they're about respect. Also, let's be clear: I don't think any of the musicians are scorning the people who wield relatively little power within the organization, who have suffered terribly throughout this whole debacle. According to one of my readers, at least one of these hardworking underpaid people was fired via email. If this is indeed true (and I have heard no one dispute it, or apologize for it), do you believe that high-level management really cares so much about the people below them? Or might they instead be seeing them as pawns in a grand seven-tier chess game (as nationally renowned arts consultant Drew McManus feared back in May)? No, this is a failure of leadership from the very top: from powerful multi-multi-millionaire board leaders Jon Campbell and Richard Davis, and Michael Henson.
You can find out the latest on the Minnesota Orchestra contract negotiations here.(1 Comments)
This morning the Minnesota Orchestra announced it has cancelled all its fall concerts through November 25.
This, after a weekend of meetings between musicians and management failed to reach a new contract settlement.
The lockout means musicians will receive no pay or benefits until a new agreement can be negotiated.
The Minnesota Orchestra's final proposal offers an average annual salary of $89,000, as opposed to the current average salary of $135,000.
In a release, Minnesota Orchestra Association Board Chair Jon Campbell explained the cuts this way:
The Orchestral Association honored the musicians' 2007 contract even though, in the midst of the recession, it placed unsustainable pressure on our endowment. We cannot continue on this course, and our Board is united in the belief that, in order to protect the Minnesota Orchestra for the long term, we must address our financial challenges now, rather than push them forward and allow them to multiply.Meanwhile, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have released a video asking why management wants to silence the music, when musicians were willing to "play and talk" - in other words, continue to negotiate - and perform - while extending the current contract.
In the above video musicians state:
We didn't build Target Field for a minor league team. If the Vikings win the Super Bowl, they don't take a pay cut. When we built the new Walker [Art Center] we didn't expect art of less significance. The new Guthrie wasn't built for Minneapolis to become mediocre in theater. So why would the orchestra management raise $110 million to build for the future, but tell musicians to take a 30 - 50% pay cut? Why would they spend $50 million for a new lobby at orchestra hall?
The musicians will hold a rally today at 1pm at the corner of Nicollet Mall and 11th in downtown Minneapolis.(2 Comments)
As time runs out for the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra to reach new labor agreements with their musicians unions, MPR's Chris Roberts took a look at how much economic pain work stoppages might cause in their respective hometowns.
At the Zelo Restaurant on Nicollet Mall, bar manager Michael Persian said the bustling eatery counts on 50 to 60 dinner patrons before every evening concert.
"You could look at anywhere from a few thousand dollars a night to $10,000 maybe per week of lost business or revenue for the restaurant," he said.
Downtown St. Paul is already suffering from a lockout by the National Hockey League of all its teams, including the Minnesota Wild. A work stoppage at the SPCO makes city director of arts and culture Joe Spencer shudder.
"A) I don't think it's going to happen, and b) we just can't let it happen," he said.
Downtown St. Paul's businesses and restaurants rely on the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts being busy seven days a week, Spencer said. SPCO audiences produce a significant chunk of their revenue. There's also an effort by four Twin Cities arts groups, including the SPCO, to raise $75 million to build a new concert hall at the Ordway. So far, $60 million has been raised.
"And if there's a work stoppage at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra," Spencer said, "it would have a chilling effect on that fund drive as we're in sort of the last stretch of getting to that $75 million goal."
Spencer believes the two parties are making progress and will reach an agreement before the deadline hits at midnight on Sunday.
You can read the rest of the story here.(1 Comments)
After months of negotiation, and little progress, both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra face contract deadlines with their musicians this weekend.
At the SPCO negotiations are scheduled all weekend.
Minnesota Orchestra management will meet with musicians on Sunday.
If no settlement is reached, the Minnesota Orchestra could lock out its players on Monday.
All sides claim nothing less than the future of the state's two leading orchestras hang in the balance.
MPR's Euan Kerr told Morning Edition host Cathy Wurzer that there are four possible scenarios for the two orchestras: play and talk, a strike, a lock-out, or a declaration of an impasse.
Kerr: Play and talk, which is kind of the industry default is just to keep negotiating and performing, but using the former contract as the status quo. The musicians could strike, the management could declare an impasse and impose its last offer, or it could lock out musicians. These last three options are a lot more high risk.
Wurzer: Lets look at the different disputes, starting with the Minnesota Orchestra. What's happening there?
Kerr: There seems a likelihood that the orchestra could lock out its musicians at midnight Sunday. Management put an offer to the musicians almost six months ago, which included sizable wage cuts. Musicians have yet to respond to that offer. On Tuesday management upped the ante by delivering what they called a final contract offer to musicians and a message that if there is no agreement by the Sunday midnight deadline musicians will be locked out. Now, management says the lockout language was legalese, and in reality they are open to whatever happens over the weekend.
Musicians said they need more information about the orchestras finances before they can respond the proposal, and they are still calling for an independent audit. However they have scheduled a vote on the proposal on Saturday afternoon. They say the proposal contains such drastic pay cuts that it will damage the orchestra, and lead to an exodus of talent. They say this makes no sense, especially as the orchestra is building a $55 million expansion of Orchestra Hall.
An interesting wrinkle here is the Minnesota Orchestra season opener isn't until October 18th, so the musicians may have a little less leverage now. If they are locked out they will not get paid. But that means there would still be time for a deal before patrons feel any effect.
Wurzer: So what about the SPCO?
Kerr: Talks between management and musicians are scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday, and both sides say while they are still far apart, they are hopeful there might be a deal. Management is clear it is also looking for big changes. Interim President Dobson West says the SPCO needs to create a new financial reality for itself if it is to survive. He's proposed a 15% pay cut for musicians, a reduction in the size of the orchestra and a buyout plan for musicians 55 and older. He says the orchestra needs to save $1.5 million a year over the current contract.
Musicians say that plan would lead to the departure of many experienced players and destroy the celebrated sound of the SPCO. They have offered to take pay cuts totaling $700,000 over three years, and then using funds earmarked for the buyouts to reach the management savings target. They say their plan gives the management time to raise more money for its endowment without hurting the artistry of the orchestra. Management said Wednesday that this plan doesn't work because the buy-out funds can't be used in this way.
Musicians responded by saying management analysis is faulty and they will continue to press their plan.
The SPCO has two concerts this weekend, and both sides have indicated they would rather play and talk at least for the moment. However this story has had many twists and nothing will be for certain until a deal is done.
Tune in tonight on All Things Considered when MPR's Chris Roberts looks at the potential impact - both on the orchestras and the economy - if either the Minnesota Orchestra or the SPCO goes on strike or is locked out.(1 Comments)
While here in the Twin Cities both the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra are still hammering out their contracts (and the Minnesota Orchestra musicians could possibly face a lockout as soon as Monday), the chips are falling for other orchestras across the nation.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and its players ended a labor standoff and agreed to a new contract on Tuesday - and late yesterday, the Atlanta Symphony and its musicians did the same.
NPR's Kathy Lohr reports the Atlanta deal means the orchestra's 68th concert season will begin next week on schedule.
The issue in Atlanta is a $20 million budget deficit that management said had to end. It closed the gap in part by cutting musicians' salaries...
When the two sides couldn't reach an agreement last month, players were locked out of the Woodruff Arts Center. With the season set to begin in just a week, the musicians approved a new contract with $5 million in concessions.
This, for an orchestra that has won 27 Grammies.(3 Comments)
There were developments in the contract battles at both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Tuesday.
In Minneapolis, with just days left in the current musicians contract, Minnesota Orchestra management delivered what it called its final offer to musicians.
It is unchanged from managements first contract proposal in that it would cut the average annual pay of musicians from $135,000 to $89,000, but Minnesota Orchestra President Michael Henson says it "clarifies" a number of work conditions, and includes a reduction in the guaranteed number of musicians in the Orchestra .
Henson says it's been almost six months since the initial proposal was delivered to musicians and they have not yet delivered a formal response. He says this final offer is being made in preparation for the contract deadline at the weekend, but declined to say whether these are first steps towards a musicians lockout.
"I think the reality is that is speculation until we actually reach the first of October and we are waiting a response from the union and our musicians," he said.
Henson says the cuts are necessary to create a more sustainable financial model for the future. Musicians at the orchestras in Atlanta and Indianapolis are both currently locked out by management as a result of their contract disputes.
A representative of the musicians said they are reviewing the proposal and have no comment.
Later in the afternoon musicians at the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra released a new counter-proposal in their contract negotiations. The offer comes just days after management rejected an earlier musicians proposal because it didn't cut costs by $1.5 million dollars a year. Management says that's the figure it needs for financial stability, and has suggested a 15 percent pay cut, and a reduction of the size of the orchestra.
Musicians negotiating committee chair Carole Mason Smith says
the proposal offers total salary reductions of 700-thousand dollars over three yearsthe proposal offers total salary reductions of 700-thousand dollars over three years. It then reaches the $1.5 million target using $3-million earmarked by management for a buy-out of musicians over the age of 55. Mason Smith says this would maintain the SPCO's artistic quality by keeping experienced players in place.
"We don't want to destroy the orchestra," she said. "We feel that strongly that we want the money that they have, they say they have, to buy people out, make people leave, make people go away, we want them to use that money to preserve the quality of the orchestra."
She says the proposal would also give the SPCO management time to work on building the organizations endowment. Musicians are also asking for an increase in ticket prices, and a reduction for surpluses they say are built into the management proposal.
A representative of management said the board is reviewing the document, and declined to comment for the moment. The SPCO contract runs out on Saturday September 30th, and further contract talks are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Contract negotiations at both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra continued today, but with little sign of progress.
MPR's Euan Kerr reports that while Minnesota Orchestra musicians received a proposal from management five months ago, musician negotiator Tim Zavadil said players still don't have enough information to respond properly.
"We renewed our call for an independent joint financial analysis of the orchestras finances so we can better understand the orchestra's true financial position," he said after the talks wrapped up for the day.
Photo by Greg Helgeson, courtesy Minnesota Orchestra
Listen to Euan Kerr's debrief with Tom Crann on All Things Considered
The management offer would cut the average pay of musicians from $135,000 a year to $89,000. Orchestra leadership says the cuts are necessary in the face of looming deficits, and as a way to make the orchestra sustainable in the future.
However musicians say for individual players this will represent a 30-50 percent cut. They say their primary concern is to maintain the Orchestras world class reputation, and such cuts will lead to musicians leaving for better paying jobs at other orchestras. A request by the players negotiating committee to speak to a meeting of the full board of the orchestra scheduled to follow the talks was denied.
Violist Sabina Thatcher and violinists Dale Barltrop and Daria T. Adams of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
Photo by Sarah Rubenstein
Meanwhile in St Paul, management of the St Paul Chamber Orchestra rejected a counter-proposal offered over the weekend by its musicians.
Two and a half weeks ago management put forward a proposal to cut musicians guaranteed pay by 15 percent to $62,500, reduce the number of players in the orchestra by 6 to 28, and to offer buy-outs to players aged 55 and over. Any new musicians would be hired at a base pay of $50,000.
The musicians counter-proposal offered a three year contract with a one percent pay cut for the first two years, followed by a four percent increase in the third year. It also maintained the number of musicians at current levels.
SPCO management asked for another counter proposal which will save more money. Mason Smith said her group will meet to decide what to do in coming days. The next negotiating sessions for SPCO musicians and management are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.(2 Comments)
As committed supporters of the orchestras -- quite often financially -- patrons are an important factor in negotiating contracts for both players and management.
But as MPR's Euan Kerr reports, most people are unaware that the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO are undergoing heated labor negotiations.
...Word of the orchestral contract battles had not seemed to have reached the people in Rice Park in St. Paul, even in the shadow of the SPCO's home at the Ordway Center.
"This is the first I've heard of it, and I've gone to the orchestra," said passerby Mike White. "My wife and I have been there usually about two and three times a year for the last few years. But I didn't know there was an issue,"
A bevy of brightly clad teenagers also said they hadn't heard anything.
"No. We go to a performing arts school, so we like that kind of stuff, but..." one said.
This reaction is unsurprising to public relations specialist Jon Austin, who is a veteran of many labor disputes including as company spokesman during the pilots' strike at Northwest Airlines. The real focus of an orchestral public relations war will be on regular patrons, he said.
"The number of people whose hearts and minds they are competing for, frankly, is pretty small," he said. "Probably could fill the Minnesota Orchestra Main Hall and maybe overflow into the lobby a little bit. But it's a pretty small number."
Today the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra released the details of its latest contract proposal for its musicians.
The contract would reduce the size of the SPCO to 28 musicians; the SPCO employs 31 musicians, with an additional three positions currently vacant.
The annual minimum compensation for musicians would be $62,500, about a 15% reduction from last year's figure of $73,732.
New musicians would receive $50,000 of guaranteed annual salary.
The proposal employs the musicians for 36 weeks, with 32 performance weeks and four vacation weeks.
Included with the proposal is a retirement package for musicians 55 and older that would be paid out over three years.
You can read the entire proposal here.
In the midst of a financial crisis, the Penumbra Theater in St. Paul is suspending plays and laying off staff to survive.
Penumbra Theater's production of The Amen Corner
Photo by Michael Brosilow
Artistic Director Lou Bellamy told MPR's Morning Edition that the decision to forgo any shows this fall was a painful one.
We found ourselves in a cash flow crunch in an income shortfall, toward the end of July. And when that stuff happens - first of all it's paralyzing, surprising, all that sort of thing - but you control the things that you have direct influence over - that's your first impulse. So right away we began to cut and try to save money - try to stop the bleeding if you will. And we took some really Draconian measures - very painful things, so we were able to cut 800,000 off this year's budget.
The theater company has laid off six staff members, including Associate Director Dominic Taylor who oversaw new play development. Bellamy says Penumbra is not alone in suffering financially, but its small size makes it vulnerable.
It was almost a perfect storm. You've got the economy struggling along; it's almost a death by a thousand cuts. A grant that would normally come in at $75,000 comes in at $50,000. An income goal of $50,000 comes in at $45,000 or $40,000 and it begins to mount up and build up, and we didn't have systems that alerted us soon enough to deal with that.
Bellamy says many people have reached out offering help when they heard the news.
When you look at Penumbra being the largest black theater in the country, it's important to not only the Twin Cities but to people all over the country - and people are calling with concern and offering help. It's not the way to find out how well you're loved, but we are finding it out, and that's good.
Bellamy says the theater won't have any shows for the fall, but could put on a musical early next year if the theater hits its new fundraising goals. Bellamy says the theater needs to raise $340,000 by the end of December. But cutting shows also has a financial downside.
You see, when you start saving money on production, that's also your product, and the way dollars come into the organization. So it compounds itself.
Bellamy said that the company's educational offerings will still be staged.
Here at MPR our coverage of both the SPCO and the Minnesota Orchestra's contract negotiations has been ramping up over the past several weeks. While both the musicians and the administration of the SPCO have been relatively transparent and forthcoming, the Minnesota Orchestra has been quite the opposite.
The orchestra has launched a web page on its site with links to the 2012 contract proposal, the orchestra's most recent annual report, and supplemental information on the negotiations, the endowment and other financial challenges.
For journalists this is great news - it means we have access to a wealth of information that will help us to better analyze the situation, and tell you the complete story.
Check back in the coming days as we dig in to the details to sift out the most important facts, and talk to the Minnesota Orchestra musicians to hear their side of the story.
In the meantime, here's the Minnesota Orchestra's opening statement from the site:
Minnesotans have always recognized music as essential to the life of a vibrant community. Our state was not yet 50 years old when its residents founded an orchestra in 1903. Built by our generous philanthropic community, the Minnesota Orchestra bloomed, bringing great music to life. We are proud that this institution has introduced millions of young people to classical music, commissioned new works, traveled the state, and shared music locally and across the globe.
Thousands of people contribute to the Minnesota Orchestra's success: in addition to musicians and soloists, there are Board members and community donors, artistic and administrative leaders, staff, volunteers, and our audiences--the reason our organization exists. We all have a part to play!
Today, our Minnesota Orchestra is facing significant financial challenges. Like many others in the recession, we need to substantially cut costs. We also need to increase our work rule flexibility to help us better meet the needs of today's concertgoers. As the Orchestra's board and musicians engage in contract negotiations, we have a responsibility to create a better future--to ensure that this institution will be artistically vibrant and financially healthy for decades to come.
Why are these negotiations important?
The Minnesota Orchestra and its musicians are engaged in contract negotiations at a critical moment in our organization's history. Like many of the country's symphony orchestras, we have financial challenges that have never been greater, and our musician expenses have never been higher. The Orchestra has managed a five-year contract with its musicians that included a pay increase of 19.2 percent to base salary, just as the organization's revenues were being hit hard by the economy. The organization has been doing everything it can to resolve its financial challenges, from engaging in a $110 million fundraising campaign, to cutting budgets, to launching new marketing and programming initiatives, and renovating Orchestra Hall to make it more inviting to audiences of all ages.
Musicians account for 48 percent of the Orchestra's total costs. (For background: nearly 80% of our total costs support concert-related expenses, and we have now enacted significant cost reductions in all other areas of our business except the musicians' contract.) Their average annual salary is $135,000, plus $35,000 worth of benefits, including a defined benefit pension plan and a comprehensive medical plan. They receive a minimum of 10 weeks paid vacation and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave each year. Our musicians must play their part in the organization's financial recovery.
What do you think of these contract negotiations? Do the Minnesota Orchestra musicians need to "play their part" by taking pay cuts? Or does the orchestra need to do a better job of finding funding for its work?(1 Comments)
Randy Walker, 2008
Hennepin County Government Center
The McKnight Mid-Career Project Grant is designed to fill a gap in funding for artists who have already made their way through grants for emerging artists and who are looking to build their portfolio with a larger-scale public project.
Randy Walker, 2007
Brackett Park, Minneapolis
For his project, Randy Walker will partner with YouthLink, which coordinates services for homeless youth, to install a public art sculpture for the Kulture Klub collaborative, a program of Youthlink. The permanent structure will be continually renewed with temporary elements developed by Kulture Klub participants.
Woven Corncrib (night view)
Randy Walker, 2008
Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life, Falcon Heights, Minnesota
All images courtesy Forecast Public Art
As contract negotiations near for both the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO, MPR's Euan Kerr asked some pointed questions, including whether the Twin Cities can afford to support both organizations.
Bruce Ridge, president of the International Conference of Symphony Orchestra Musicians, or ICSOM, sees it this way.
"The question is not whether or not the Twin Cities can continue to afford to support both organizations," he said. "I think the question is: how can you afford not to support them?"
The orchestras are part of Minnesota's cultural legacy, Ridge said, and can't be simply cast aside.
Orchestras, like sports teams, bring prestige and people, to a city. They are an integral part of a thriving arts community.
Photo by Greg Helgeson, courtesy Minnesota Orchestra
The sports metaphor continues with Dobson West, the SPCO's interim president, who says the two orchestras don't necessarily compete for the same audience:
"The Minnesota Wild is a professional sports team," he said. "The Vikings are a professional sports team, but the game that they play is entirely different. And so there is nothing that says they steal from each other."
So it is with the orchestras, he said. There is some audience overlap between the two, but not much. Some people prefer the intimacy of the SPCO's 34-member ensemble, others the majesty of the Minnesota Orchestra with three times as many players. And some cynical classical fans might point out that both orchestras have been at the top of their games for a lot longer than any Minnesota sports team.
You can read the entire story here.
Both the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra are in the process of negotiating new contracts with their musicians. The talks come amid a national orchestral scene rife with conflict, economic challenges and, in some cases, long strikes. The fact that both orchestras are up for contract renewal at the same time raises the stakes even further.
The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra faces a projected deficit of up to $1 million this year and is looking to cut costs. (Photo by Sarah Rubenstein)
Over the coming weeks, Minnesota Public Radio will be looking closely at what's at stake for both musicians and orchestra management, and how having two orchestras in one metropolitan area is affecting the local market for classical music. We'll also look at the potential impact of an extended strike by either or both orchestras.
The story is a complex one, so we've put together a primer to help you understand just what's going on.
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The St. Paul-based Bush Foundation has named a new president.
The new head of the foundation will be Jennifer Ford Reedy, known for her work on the Itasca Project and the GiveMN.org initiative at the Minnesota Philanthropy Partners. Reedy is currently the chief of staff and vice president of strategy at Philanthropy Partners.
At the Bush Foundation, Reedy will succeed Peter Hutchinson, who headed the organization from 2008 through January 2012. Former University of Minnesota president Robert Bruininks has served as an interim leader.
Reedy is also a former McKinsey & Co. consultant and serves on the board of the Citizens League and the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.
The Bush foundation was founded in 1953 by 3M Co. executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth. It's the fourth largest philanthropic foundation in Minnesota.
Reedy said she expects the foundation will make technological advances during her tenure.
"I think the Bush Foundation has already done some interesting work using online platforms and using social media, so it isn't like I'm bringing a skill that isn't already in the organization in some capacity," she said. "But I definitely do have a lot of optimism about the power of social media and other technology tools in bringing people together, so I'll definitely bring that to this role."
Reedy is a Kansas native. She starts as the foundation's fourth president on Sept. 4.
Editor's note: Thanks to MPR's Tim Nelson for this story
Posted at 2:46 PM on June 20, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
VSA Minnesota has awarded more than $100,000 to eleven Twin Cities arts organizations to aid them in their work to become more accessible to people with disabilities.
These grants will not just fund wheelchair access ramps - they include everything from assistive listening devices for theater patrons who are hard of hearing, to staff training, to wood turning equipment geared toward people who have suffered some vision loss.
Here are the grantees:
American Association of Woodturners $15,000
Cedar Cultural Center $15,000
Lakeshore Players $5,865
Minnesota Center for Book Arts $9,525
Minnesota Fringe Festival $3,520
Mixed Precipitation $7,560
Pillsbury House Theatre $15,000
Stages Theatre Company $8,000
Theater Latte Da $5,124
Upstream Arts $15,000
Funding for the ADA Access Improvement Grants comes from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
There is now a working bar in the kitchen of Minnesota's first territorial governor, Alexander Ramsey.
The house where Alexander Ramsey lived when he first became a U.S. senator is now home to the occasional happy hour.
Photo courtesy of the Minn. Historical Society
As MPR's Rupa Shenoy reports, History Happy Hour is part of the Minnesota Historical Society's latest strategy to attract more visitors to historic sites.
Historical society program director Jayne Becker says Ramsey's wife, Anna, threw lavish parties and concerts, making the home a center of society in the years after the Civil War. Becker hopes to continue in that tradition.
"To walk in the door and hear, already, laughing, or hear talking, or clapping, it's just a way of stepping back in time and maybe actually getting a truer picture of what life was actually like when Alexander Ramsey and his wife lived here," Becker said.
The Ramsey family gave the mansion to the Minnesota Historical Society in the 1960s. Until about two-and-a-half years ago, the society had two full-time staff members working here. Budget cuts forced the Historical society down to one part-time staffer. The Ramsey House reduced its public hours.
The happy hour events could bring in money that would open the house again full-time, Becker said.
Tickets are $20 and come with two drinks. You can find out more about History Happy Hour here.
Starting in October the Minnesota Museum of American Art gets to hang its art on its own walls again.
Photo courtesy the MMAA
The museum will move into a street level suite of galleries in the Pioneer Building this fall, where it will be open for limited hours each week. The partial re-opening will allow the museum to see if the new location will work as a permanent home. Executive Director Kristin Makholm says the location, near the edge of the Lowertown neighborhood, will help the museum become more integrated with the downtown St. Paul community.
This new home is right along the light rail line, it's right on the skyway, it's two blocks from Union Depot and from the hub of the Lowertown artists' community, and this location really will reflect and signify our embeddedness in the community in a new and dynamic way.
Three years ago the museum was forced to leave it's home on Kellogg Boulevard in downtown Saint Paul to make way for redevelopment. A lack of both funds and leadership forced the museum to put its collection in storage.
Then director Kristin Makholm was brought on board, and ever since she's been working to raise the funds for a new home, while simultaneously keeping the collection alive in people's minds by touring the works in galleries across the state.
Makholm says this move means a great deal for the museum and the community:
It will be like a living room where neighbors can play a real part in helping to determine what the new MMAA will be like. The "on the road" exhibitions we've been doing for the past couple of years have been important for the MMAA because they've allowed us to share our distinctive collection in new venues throughout the metro and state and to invite new audiences into the fold. Those exhibitions will continue to happen in the next few years.
Makholm says the new home will allow the museum to reconnect with the public. She says now is the time for the museum to take the next steps toward establishing a new home.
Everyone wants to see the MMAA back in a strong and significant way, and there is much support for this new gallery, this location, and the kind of exhibitions and activities that will be offered in the space.
Our goal is a permanent home and so, like any nonprofit, fund-raising and "funds-sustaining " are the challenges we see on the horizon. We are optimistic because we have received so much support from the community and government sources alike, for the build out of this new space and for our operations in general, but it will be important to continue to bring in supporters from the entire metro, state, and region who understand the unique stories the MMAA can and will tell through art and through collaborations with artists and other organizations.
The historic Pioneer Building was once home to the Pioneer Press.
ArtPlace, the same organization which funded a major community development project along Twin Cities central lightrail corridor, is now funding four new cultural initiatives in the Twin Cities. Each of these projects is aimed at bringing creative placemaking to urban communities, and incorporating the arts into city planning.
Listen to an interview with ArtPlace's Director Carol Coletta:
Here's how the projects break down:
Who: Native American Community Development Institute
What: Anpetu Was'te Cultural Arts Market
How Much: $435,000
This grant will be used to construct a pedestrian plaza on Franklin Avenue at the LRT station. The market will connect the Ventura Village and Seward neighborhoods while also creating spaces for performances and vendors. The grant includes commissions for four public art pieces for the plaza, which will serve as a gateway to the American Indian Cultural Corridor.
As a result of this grant four artists will be placed in residence in the Minneapolis Planning Division, where they will use their creative artistic talents to tackle the transportation, economic, environmental and social issues facing Minneapolis.
"The arts aren't just for theaters and museums: they're for our streets, our neighborhoods and our daily lives in every corner of our city, " said Mayor R.T. Rybak. "Thanks to the generosity of ArtPlace, visionary arts organizations in Minneapolis that focus on serving low-income communities and communities of color will have the resources they need to engage in the creative place-making that we already see coming to fruition downtown."
Who: Public Art Saint Paul and the City of Saint Paul
What: City Artists In Residence
How Much: $300,000
Building on the past several years' work of Saint Paul's Artist-in-Residence Marcus Young, this grant will bring in two additional artists, involving them in conversations on the shaping and programming of public spaces. This could manifest itself in ways that effect some of the basic systems of the city, from its water and infrastructure to daily social interaction.
Who: Pillsbury House + Theatre
What: Arts on Chicago
How Much: $250,000
The goal of "Arts on Chicago" is to build upon the presence of artists and arts-related businesses already present in the neighborhood to create a stronger, more vibrant community. The grant will fund 20 art projects, while also working to build a sustainable method for continuing these projects in years to come.
"I've loved this neighborhood for the past 17 years; it's an incredibly diverse, mind-expanding, alive, creative place to live and work," says Pillsbury House + Theatre co-director Noel Raymond. "Unfortunately, the true character of the neighborhood is not always reflected in media portrayals or, sometimes, in the physical landscape on Chicago Avenue. Artplace will help us bring awareness and transform the physical space, so that the energy and strengths of these neighborhoods are really recognized."
In announcing the new grants, which total $15 million nationwide, ArtPlace's Director Carol Coletta said: "These projects all exemplify the best in creative placemaking. They demonstrate a deep understanding of how smart investments in art, design, and culture as part of a larger portfolio of revitalization strategies can change the trajectory of communities and increase economic opportunities for people."
Art4Shelter is one of those rare creations in which everybody wins.
Prospective art buyers peruse the hundreds of original works on sale at last year's Art4Shelter event
This coming Wednesday night people will flock to Burnet Gallery in downtown Minneapolis to buy art.
There they will be treated to over 1000 original works of art on paper, all priced at the incredibly reasonable $30 each.
Granted the works are small - 5x7 inches - but many of them will be by well known artists such as Alec Soth, Andrea Stanislav, and Paul Shambroom. However signatures will be on the back of the artwork, so buyers will have to buy according to taste, not reputation - and isn't that the way it should be?
The proceeds will go to Simpson Housing Services.
1000 works of art at $30 each... that adds up to $30,000.
Art4Shelter is the brain child of artist Megan Rye, inspired by a similar fundraiser in New York City. The first year the event was held at Circa Gallery, and the art flew off the walls in just minutes. Rye says the price point is important:
At $30 for each piece of artwork, and no entry fee, almost everyone would feel welcome to attend. Homelessness and poverty are universal concerns, and our goal is to involve and educate as many people as possible.
One of the works of art on sale this year at Art4Shelter
So the shelter gets $30,000, and art lovers get great art at a more than reasonable price. But what do the artists get out of it?
Artists are the most compassionate people I know. Their generosity makes this event possible. One artist said to me, "I could never write a $1000 check. But by making 33 pieces of artwork, I am able to contribute that much to a homeless shelter."
In addition, Rye says contributing artists are listed on the Art4Shelter website, with links to their websites.
Art4Shelter takes place this Wednesday night at Burnet Gallery in downtown Minneapolis. People can peruse the art from 5-7pm; the sale begins at 7pm.
Just two and a half years after launching, the philanthropic website GiveMN has surpassed $50 million in charitable donations.
Executive Director Dana Nelson says while hitting the $50 million mark wasn't a specific goal for GiveMN, "it is a great milestone and represents the enormous generosity of over 150,000 Minnesotans - and others who care about Minnesota - who support thousands of nonprofits through GiveMN.org."
Since its launch, GiveMN has processed online donations for more than 6,200 Minnesota nonprofits, made by more than 154,000 individuals.
According to Nelson, GiveMN has raised more in its lifetime than Causes, a national site for channeling philanthropy.
Given the fact that we have outpaced at least one national giving platform and have the largest online one-day giving event in the world, Give to the Max Day, we have a good sense that from a national perspective GiveMN is leading the way. In the Network for Good study of online giving, Minnesota was ranked number one in "giving by state" in 2009. I am proud that we are number one in that study because of Give to the Max Day but I am even more proud that we continue to see sustained volume growth long after our first big campaign.
According to Causes website, it has raised $40 million since it launched in 2007.
Nelson says she believes GiveMN's success is due in part to the fact that it has a local focus.
Moving forward Nelson says she hopes to grow charitable giving in Minnesota, and move more of it online. By the end of the year GiveMN plans to add public K-12 schools to the giving platform.
GiveMN is one of only two statewide year-round giving platforms, the other being in Colorado.
A University of Minnesota Extension study released today finds that Minnesota museums contributed $674 million to the state's economy in 2011.
Weisman Art Museum, one of approximately 600 museums in the state of Minnesota
Photo: Weisman Art Museum
Lead researcher Brigid Tuck says survey staff contacted 562 documented museums around the state to come up with the total economic impact. She says the impact came in a number of ways.
The direct impact, which is seen by the museums themselves just for their operations, is $337 million, and that's broken down, in the study we break it down by operations and by capital improvements.
Tuck says the survey found that museum tourists alone have more than $50 million dollars in economic impact in the state.
So museums are bringing people into their communities from outside their region. We defined that as more than 50 miles, which is the standard definition for tourism, kind of for tourists. So we found that museums really are bringing in people to into their communities and those people are spending money in those communities.An estimated 1.7 million people visited Minnesota museums located outside their home regions in 2011, spending an average of $24.35 each. The study is being released in conjunction with Minnesota Museums Month. It is believed to be the first survey of its kind. (2 Comments)
Plans to build a new concert hall at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts have been pushed back to the spring of 2013.
Rendering of the new hall for the Ordway
Image courtesy of St. Paul's Artistic Partnership
The renovation, which was tentatively scheduled to break ground this year, was contingent on the Arts Partnership (the Ordway, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera and the Schubert Club) completing its $75 million capital campaign.
Currently the partnership has raised approximately $55 million.
While only about half of the campaign money is designated for the renovation, and the other half for an endowment, Ordway president Patricia Mitchell says the partnership does not want to move forward until all the funding is in place.
It's easier frankly to raise money for the building piece than for the endowment piece. But this whole project is focused on solving the two major problems at the Ordway for all of us as partners - time and money. The concert hall solves the time part but without the endowment we don't solve the money part.
Rendering of the Ordway's exterior once the expansion is complete
Image courtesy of St. Paul's Artistic Partnership
Mitchell notes that fundraising has its own tempo, and unlike musical compositions you can't necessarily make it go faster:
I think there's a high level of confidence that we will be able to start next spring. One of the things that's peculiar about this project is that we really can only start in a spring, because we cannot - or choose not to- interrupt the activities of all of us in the music theater. So that gives us a construction schedule that is somewhat less flexible than it otherwise might be. So if somebody gave us a check for 25 million dollars on August 1st, that would be lovely - but we still couldn't start until next spring.
Mitchell says the decision to postpone the renovation has opened up opportunities for programming this summer - including a run of Chicago in August - and for the McKnight Theater in the coming year.
You can read more about the planned renovation here.
Recent changes at the Minnesota Orchestra have some people worried, including professional conductor Bill Eddins.
Eddins, a resident of the Twin Cities and Music Director of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, co-writes a blog called Sticks and Drones. In his latest post he compares the Minnesota Orchestra to the battleship USS Minnesota, which was eventually sold for scrap after hitting a mine.
There is a confluence of events pointing to the 2012-13 season. First, they're in contract negotiations. Second, they're being kicked out of the hall [for renovations]. Third, the deficit is looming. Suddenly, and I mean very suddenly, the Minnesota is in desperate waters.
For those able to read tea leaves we reached a tipping point last week when Sarah Kwak, Associate CM of the Minnesota, announced she was signing on as Concert Master of Oregon.
Eddins goes on to say while orchestra management seems determined to get costs under control, it doesn't appear to have a vision for artistic sustainability. Eddins declares that, based on the upcoming season, "The 'plan' seems to be to convert the Minnesota into a glorified Pops orchestra."
You can read all of Eddins' thoughts on the matter here.(1 Comments)
One of the most significant figures in Twin Cities arts philanthropy has died.
John Cowles Jr., 82, succumbed to lung cancer Saturday evening, surrounded by family.
John Cowles, shown here with his wife Sage. Cowles died Saturday evening from lung cancer
Image courtesy Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts
While his family has a long history in the newspaper industry, Cowles also made his own indelible mark in the arts.
He lured director Tyrone Guthrie to Minneapolis to realize a vision for a professional regional theater company. Cowles helped raise the money for the orignal Guthrie Theater; 40 years later he served as co-chairman of the architecture committee for the new Guthrie complex.
Along with his wife Sage - after which the Sage Awards are named - Cowles also held a pivotal role in the world of dance.
Most recently the couple were recognized with the naming of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Perfoming Arts.
Services are pending.
How would life for an artist in Granite Falls compare to that of life in say, Chicago or New York?
For Brad Hall, Granite Falls is the far better choice.
Brad Hall works on a set of watercolor paintings at his home studio in Granite Falls, Minn.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson
Hall is part of an emerging arts economy in western Minnesota, an area stretching from Ortonville downriver through Milan, Montevideo and Granite Falls. People here are hoping that focusing on creativity, art and handwork will lead to jobs and reverse the longstanding trend toward a declining and graying population. It's a strategy some communities have turned to as part of a drive to become more entrepreneurial..
It's notable that this part of Minnesota is doing better than most when it comes to grassroots job growth. While some measurements indicate entrepreneurial activity declined statewide beginning in 2007 or 2008, the Granite Falls and Montevideo area saw a growth in proprietor income and also managed to hold self-employment numbers steady.
Rural areas rely heavily on the self-employed, and arts-related endeavors are becoming a larger and increasingly legitimized part of the picture. The movement toward arts-based economic growth, sometimes called "creative placemaking," seeks to revitalize and re-imagine cities or neighborhoods searching for a new way forward.
Western Minnesota certainly has its share of artists and craftspeople, including painters, potters, musicians and willow furniture makers. A fall arts crawl called the Meander featured 45 artists last year, flung across area towns and farms
You can find out more about how the arts are transforming Minnesota towns by reading Vogel's story here.(1 Comments)
Whiteout conditions and heavy snowfall in many parts of Minnesota has taken a toll on what is normally a jam-packed event at the State Capitol.
Today is Arts Advocacy Day, when arts supporters from across the state convene to talk about the importance of the arts with their legislators.
According to Sheila Smith, Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, it's also the best attended advocacy day at the Capitol all year... weather permitting.
But this morning many advocates found they couldn't even get out of their driveways, let along make a several hour drive to the Twin Cities to show their support.
That has meant for some swift reorganizing this morning. Laura Zabel, with Springboard for the Arts, tweeted that "We're down quite a few greater MN constituents b/c of weather. But @MNCITIZEN (Sheila Smith) has rocked a reorg of teams!"
In addition, Smith tweeted "of the about 500 ppl signed up for arts advicacy day, almost 1/2 didnt make it bc of weather!"
Smith has encouraged those who can't make the event in person to contact their legislators via e-mail on a number of specific topics.
Posted at 1:20 PM on February 27, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
Back in September, my colleague Chris Roberts reported on a new program designed to bring life and vibrancy to Central Corridor neighborhoods disrupted by light rail construction.
The project, called "Irrigate," trains local artists in economic development and community organizing skills. It's the result of a partnership between the city of St. Paul, St. Paul-based Springboard for the Arts, and a group called Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Coalition.
Well, now that it's been six months, how are things moving along?
Here's a look at the initial stages of Irrigate:
Posted at 10:04 AM on February 16, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
The Joyce Foundation may be based in Chicago, but it has funded plenty of art in the Twin Cities. Each year the Joyce Awards grant artists of color $50,000 to create new works with cultural institutions.
Remember Wing Young Huie's University Avenue Project? That was funded by the Joyce Awards. Other recent projects include a collaborations between choreographer Uri Sands and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, and playwright Naomi Iizuka with the Children's Theatre Company.
In fact, Angelique Power, the Joyce Foundation's Senior Program Officer for Culture, says Twin Cities artists have often been the recipient of Joyce Awards, which are spread out across the Great Lakes district.
Actually the Twin Cities has dominated the Joyce Awards. Because this is such a supportive arts community and the quality of work is so high, we've actually had many Joyce Awardees come from the Twin Cities - some years we've had two out of the four winners come from the Twin Cities.
Power is in the Twin Cities to check on a recent project coming to fruition - Hannibal Lokumbe's collaboration with Vocalessence (more on that tomorrow). But today she's also meeting with artists to talk about changes to how the Joyce Foundation grants money.
Specifically, the foundation will no longer be granting awards to artists working with cultural institutions. Instead Power says the foundation wants to see proposals from artists who want to work with institutions that are not strictly cultural.
We're following the lead of different artists and frankly a lot of cultural institutions that are stretching themselves beyond the gallery, beyond the theater seats, beyond the symphony halls and are working more intrinsically in the communities that surround them.Power says the new direction is also in response to rhetoric about the arts being a "luxury item."
The arts are a critical part of our lives and livelihood. So if we can make a difference by giving a gift of $50,000 to artists that are doing these incredibly impactful projects, then hopefully we can shift the conversation some.
Posted at 3:05 PM on February 14, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
President Obama's proposed budget for 2013 totals $3.8 trillion.
Of that, approximately $1.576 billion would go to the arts.
That means the arts would make up 0.04% of the budget. That might seem like small potatoes, but it's actually a 5% raise for organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Portrait Gallery.
That's good, right?
Not so fast, according to the LA Times' Mike Boehm, who says the president's show of support for the National Endowment for the Arts is still is a far cry from 'the good old days.'
Obama, for his part, cast the arts as a unifying force on Monday in a brief afternoon speech at the White House, before conferring this year's National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal to recipients including actor Al Pacino, visual artists Will Barnet and Martin Puryear, and poet John Ashbery (pianist Andre Watts missed the ceremony).
"Equal to the impact you have on each of us every day as individuals is the impact you have on us as a society. And we are told we're divided as a people, and then suddenly the arts have this power to bring us together and speak to our common condition," the president said.
He was clearly overlooking the "culture wars" of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which spelled doom for NEA grants to individual artists and resulted in funding cuts from which the agency, whose annual budget stood at $176 million in 1992, still hasn't recovered. To return to that level in inflation-adjusted spending power, the NEA would need a budget hike to $282.2 million, or nearly double what Obama is proposing.
The Bush Foundation announced today that President Peter Hutchinson has resigned.
He will step down later this month.
Hutchinson joined the Bush Foundation in November 2007, not long after his run as the Independence Party of Minnesota candidate for Governor of Minnesota in 2006.
Under his leadership, the Bush Foundation made significant changes to its grantmaking, focusing on community leadership, education, and governance in Native nations. Many artists complained that in so doing, the foundation reduced its funding of artists.
In a release sent out today, Bush Foundation Board Chair Jan Malcolm stated:
Peter Hutchinson brought exactly what the Bush Foundation sought in moving from a responsive grantmaker toward proactive funding to achieve specific strategic goals. The goals and strategies in each of our three areas of focus - student achievement, governance in Native nations, and community problem-solving through leadership development and citizen engagement - are on track. Our next step is execution and refinement of these strategies. Peter's gifts of envisioning and bold goal-setting have served both the Foundation and the region very well. We are committed to finding as strong a fit in our next leader as we found in Peter almost five years ago.
Hutchinson will continue to serve the foundaiton in an advisory capacity on select initiatives.
A transition committee will begin a search process; in the interim, senior staff of the Foundation will report to Malcolm.
Do the Twin Cities need more small theater spaces?
This was the question I was left with after a recent discussion on the closing of the Loring Theater.
The question drew strong responses, from artists who have obviously been dealing with this situation for a long time.
Frank Theater's Wendy Knox offered a blunt, "No, there are not" (FYI, Frank Theater is known for performing in less traditional locations, occasionally including abandoned buildings).
Screenwriter Marvin Joel Rubin said it's not just an issue of performance space, but rehearsal space as well. To which dancer Kenna Cottman added there's also a need for spaces that can serve dance companies.
Robin Gillette runs the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and is very familiar with performance spaces all over Minneapolis. She immediately had this to offer:
Seems like you can't just talk about numbers of venues - you have to factor in whether they're affordable, well-equipped and maintained, and conveniently located.She went on to say:
There are not enough 100-200 seat venues that are affordable, well-equipped and conveniently located. HOWEVER... I don't think the answer is to run around creating new venues, necessarily. If there was a way to either improve existing venues or clear them off the deck so there's demand/funding/staff/equipment for new ones, that'd be great. I don't know that the *total* number of venues needs to improve, but some shifting in the pool might be useful.
With that in mind, I asked which venues out there are models for how best to serve performance artists.
Jennifer Ilse, one of the creative partners behind "Off-Leash Area," a company that performs out of its, and other people's, garages, had this to offer:
I'd vote for the Playwrights' Center - really reasonably priced, maintained and equipped and efficient and straightforward to work with. Red Eye Theater is also great in providing inexpensive space and providing enormous room for artists to do what they want to create their vision. Rehearsal space - Patrick's Cabaret is tough to beat. Great, efficient staff, very well priced, especially helpful having cheaper prices for off-peak hours, and the space is really well kept and getting better all the time.
But running a performance space for other companies to rent is not that easy. Actor/director Paul Reyburn shared this:
This has been a discussion for several years. I tried to open a space about ten yrs ago but couldn't finance it. It's an ongoing need, to be sure, but finding the money seems to be the biggest issue. I'd love to see a couple more in St. Paul.
Ben Heywood, director of The Soap Factory, a gallery which also hosts performances, added:
In terms of City code not to mention equipping costs theater spaces a very expensive to set up. With limited seating it's then very hard to make them financially viable for anything other than stand up. Hence the popularity of the Fringe.
Liz Neerland, along with her husband Josh Cragun, runs Nimbus Theater. They recently moved into their own space in the Nordeast neighborhood, and rent it out to other companies. She echoed Heywood's thoughts and elaborated on them.
Speaking as someone who just did it, it's incredibly difficult to create new performance space. The city zoning/permitting/licensing process is a maze and there is no one to help figure it out. Funding is always an issue, and the amount of equipment needed to make a space desirable is a huge expense. Trying to balance - between needing to have a space that people want to work in, that is inviting to artists and audiences alike, and needing to pay the rent every month and keep the lights and heat on - it is a huge challenge. We may need more spaces, but we also need enough people to capably manage them.
And finally, actor and Minnesota Playlist staffer Levi Weinhagen had this to add:
In my humble opinion the real question is whether or not the Twin Cities can support more 100-200 seat performance spaces.
Artists of any stripe, whether writer, painter, actor, or wig-maker, do not have inherent value. Everyone should have the right and probably encouragement to make cool things and do their art but that doesn't mean they're entitled to an audience interested in consuming their art. By that same token, if theater spaces aren't being created and thriving perhaps at times it's an indication of management issues but most of the time the indication is that audiences aren't spending their money to see shows in those spaces. If a venue can't support itself with audiences & revenue, or find a behemoth corporate sponsor than what makes the space worth keeping open?
So what's to be done? Does city management need to provide a process for helping small venues get up and running? Do current spaces need an injection of business training? Or is this simply the nature of market forces at work?
Share your thoughts in the comments section.(1 Comments)
Last week the folks who run the Loring Theater announced they would be shutting their doors on December 31.
Such announcements often spark debates in the arts community. What went wrong? Could it have been avoided? And what does this mean for the rest of us?
I asked folks in the business to share their thoughts on the Loring's situation - here are some of the responses I got:
Dean J Seal, writer, performer and previous Fringe Festival director, blames the location of the Loring Theater, formerly known as "The Music Box:"
The Music Box is a venue with location and parking problems. It is a great space, but off the beaten track, and has no lot immediately adjacent to the space. Minnesotans hate walking. I am guessing they loaded up with staffing overhead and couldn't make the nut every single week. It was used successfully by the MN Fringe for 2 years, but that was as part of a festival, with a crowd that liked walking, in the summer, with a couple hit shows. Longer term programming would need a hook of some kind that could overcome the natural geographic difficulties of the space. It was built before a freeway cut the neighborhood in half, so the problems weren't inherent to the space initially. But it's a dead zone now.
Actor Steve Hendrickson thinks the space itself is the issue:
I believe part of the Loring Theatre problem is the renovation the facility underwent in the mid-90s after the Cricket Theatre was kicked to the curb. It's no longer a useful venue for conventional theatre production. The auditorium is now deep and narrow, making it a hard venue for intimate productions. At the same time, the stage has little wing and fly-space making it unsuitable for larger (musical) productions. It can be a great space for concerts and specialty events like "Triple Espresso" but there may not be enough of these to keep the facility in the black.
Paul Wilson, a former full-time artist who
now sits until recently sat on the board of the group Cantus and works in the financial sector, wonders if the theater was a bad fit for the organization:
As harsh as it may sound, I think this may be a great opportunity for another up-and-coming arts organization to come in and make something amazing out of that space. If The Directors, LLP couldn't get butts in seats, there was clearly a disconnect between their artistic model and their business model. Maybe a 200-seat venue would have been more appropriate for them - one with lower fixed costs.
Gallery owner Stephen Sugarman thinks there aren't enough people locally to fill the audiences of the numerous venues all over the Twin Cities:
Really we just dont have the population say like Atlanta , NY , LA Miami to fully support such a large and diverse arts community -anbd I belive that is the state of the arts in MN -the big question how do we change the M.O. of this community for the better in near and in the distant future. If MN realy belives that the arts are important to our culture -and in my case, I'm talking visual arts - then we are going to need to bring the buyer/the market to MN.
Dancer John Munger worries that such closings speak to the loss of "the middle class" of the arts.
It is a grave concern because the "99% vs 1% dynamic" moves so many things closer and closer to a polarization where big theaters --arts palaces -- win, the alternative such as scruffy small venues like Bryant Lake Bowl (Which I love and where I choose mostly to produce and perform) or Patrick's Cabaret survive anyway because they're tough, inexpensive and the nobles in the castle don't really care what the villagers do. But I argue that, just as in the economic picture, there needs to be a middle class in the performance world. It is a grave concern if a mid-level venue like The Loring is another victim of the endlessly ferocious war between various opposing political and economic persuasions.
Christine Chernis Brandt worries about the health of non-profit boards:
I have been in nonprofit arts management all my life, mainly in other communities, and I find repeatedly that boards do NOT understand their fiscal responsibility. Few raise funds appropropriately and support their artists correctly.
Robin Gillette, Director of the Minnesota Fringe Festival, argues that business skills need to be an inherent part of the arts:
I'd argue that the skills necessary to operate a building are different (and more business-oriented) than the skills necessary to create art - when people with skills in one area assume that that gives them skills in the other area, there's often trouble. Without complete government subsidy of the arts (which I'm NOT lobbying for), I think there does need to be an element of "business" in art to keep the lights on.
John Munger was not alone when he questioned the amount of media time and money invested in sports compared to the arts:
Consider, for example, the Vikings. They might put 45,000 in the Metrodome. But they only do it eight times. Every weekend of the year at least one and as many as dozens of theaters are presenting work. That's not just eight times nor even 52 times. A Thursday-Fri-Sat run pumps one single 52 week theater to about 156 presentations. And how many theaters are there? And so forth. I keep going with the simple arithmetic, but the point becomes compelling once one stops to think.
Finally playwright Dan Pinkerton wonders if it's simply natural for an organization to close its doors:
Can't we ever accept failure? Can't we ever mourn a loss without launching a screed against everyone else? It's a shame the Loring Theatre closed, but we still have a LOT of theatres in the Twin Cities, and a very exciting, diverse group they are.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section.(1 Comments)
The end of 2011 marks the end of the Loring Theater, at least under its current management. Managing partner Steve Barberio posted this to the theater's website:
Friends of Loring Theater:
The Directors, LLP has decided not to renew its lease on Loring Theater (a.k.a. The Music Box Theatre) located at 1407 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. The company will cease operating in the building effective December 31, 2011.
In early 2010 we began to transform The Music Box Theatre into a modern day variety house under the building's original name Loring Theater. With the support of a group of investors, the owner of the building, a talented staff of professionals and many others we built an operating infrastructure that added a fantastic 440-seat venue back into the vibrant Twin Cities performing arts scene.
Since we opened, over 15,000 people walked through the doors and hundreds of artists performed on the stage. We are proud of our work, honored to have been stewards of the space, and grateful to all who contributed their time, talent and money to this amazing venture. Loring Theater is an amazing building in a phenomenal location and there are many, many artists who love performing on that stage. Our hope is that someone will pick up where we left off and continue to make Nicollet Avenue and 14th Street in the Loring Park Neighborhood a destination for affordable quality entertainment.
Best wishes to all for a happy and prosperous New Year.
The Directors, LLP
Back in November the Loring Theater canceled shows and cut staff in response to a lack of attendance.(1 Comments)
"Two forms (Divided Circle)" stood in Dulwich Park in South London for 40 years.
Two Forms (Divided Circle) (Image courtesy of www.barbarahepworth.org.uk)
Then Tuesday night, someone broke a padlock on a nearby gate, drove up the the piece, and used an industrial saw to separate it from its pedestal.
The chair of the local park supporters group, Trevor Moore, told the Guardian newspaper "It has always been there as long as I've been in Dulwich. It's just one of those things which is always there as you wander past and you feel like you've had a finger chopped off, in all honesty."
The sad fact is with the price of certain metals such and bronze and copper skyrocketing, thieves see money in the scrap value of the materials, not in what they could get for art.
A Henry Moore sculpture stolen in 2005 valued at 3 million pounds ($4,700,000) is believed to have been melted down and sold for scrap, netting the equivalent of about $2350.
"Everything is in danger now," Forecast Public Art Executive Director Jack Becker said today. "Public art is an easy target."
He pointed to a piece in USA Today which lists thefts in the US, including several bronze plaques built and installed in 1996 for the Atlanta Olympics which are being replaced with stainless steel replicas as thieves steal the originals. Apparently there's much less interest in stainless steel from scrap merchants.
Becker says while there haven't been cases on the scale of the Hepworth and Moore thefts, public art in Minnesota has also suffered. He points to how letters in the signage at the 35W memorial disappeared just hours after officials and survivors dedicated the monument. He says he doesn't know they were sold for scrap, but finds it unlikely thieves wanted the letters to make words of their own.
He also said it's common practice in the public art business to prepare for the worst. "You have to overbuild," he said, adding extra bolts, bricks and other attachments to make sure art placed in public spaces stay there.(1 Comments)
Editor's Note: This report comes from MPR's Dan Gunderson stationed in Moorhead.
The Plains Art Museum in Fargo is ready to start construction on a $2.8 million education facility. The Creativity Center will be in a renovated building attached to the downtown Fargo museum by a skywalk. It will have studios for ceramics, drawing and painting, sculpture and digital media as well as galleries to display students work.
Image courtesy Plains Art Museum
The idea is to expand art education. The museum has a deal with Fargo Public Schools to teach classes to 5,000 K-5 students starting next fall.
Museum Director Colleen Sheehy expects 12,000 students as other Fargo Moorhead schools send students to the center in the next couple of years. There will also be classes offered for adults.
The Center has been in the works for several years. Fundraising started about 5 years ago. It got a push over the top this week when the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Trust and the Burgum family donated $500,000 to the project.
Sheehy says the family has given more than $800,000 to the project since fundraising started. The museum still needs to raise $200,000 to wrap up the capital campaign.
Doug Burgum built Great Plains Software in Fargo and sold the company to Microsoft. He says investing in art education is good for business.
Burgum says a creative workforce is an economic development tool. He hearkens back to the conversations about art he had with his late mother Katherine, whose name will be on the new center. He says those conversations taught him to be more observant and curious. He says those are traits that foster innovation.
Burgum says the Center for Creativity will be about more than kids having fun with a pottery wheel or paint and canvas. He expects the result to be a better trained, more innovative workforce.
The New York-based Augustine Foundation has given an undisclosed amount of money to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra to plan new projects and collaborations in the 2012-13 season.
In conjunction with the grant, the SPCO has hired Minneapolis-based music curator Kate Nordstrum, perhaps best known for her work bringing high profile artists to the Southern Theater. Under her curatorial leadership, the Southern quickly became a go-to venue for such new music performers and composers as Nico Muhly and Gabriel Kahane.
The SPCO is looking to develop new projects for its 250-seat Music Room in the Hamm Building in downtown Saint Paul. While the Orchestra rehearses in the Hamm Building during the work week, and performs its chamber music and contemporary concerts there, the large majority of SPCO weekend performances take place at the Ordway Center or in one of the Orchestra's neighborhood venues.
With Nordstrum's help, the SPCO hopes to transform the Music Room into a casual performance setting that introduces contemporary classical musicians and composers to local audiences.
While an inquiry was made into the size of the grant, SPCO staff said it was not able to release the specifics.
Rendering of the new hall for the Ordway
Image courtesy of St. Paul's Artistic Partnership
The 1,100 seat hall will stand on the site currently occupied by the 300 seat McKnight Theater. HGA architect Tim Carl says the expansion respects the original Ordway design:
The new Concert Hall will have a physical and acoustical intimacy that will provide a visceral and direct connection between the audience and the artists on stage. Warm materials articulate and shape a beautiful hall with an acoustic environment that will envelop the listener with warmth and resonance. The Ordway's existing lobby dynamically frames views of Rice Park and the city beyond. New lobby space wraps the Concert Hall and continues the rhythmic beauty of the existing lobby windows and extends those views to Fifth Street and the Saint Paul Cathedral to the west.
The Arts Partnership consists of the Ordway, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera and the Schubert Club. Ordway President Patricia Mitchell says the new hall will become home to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and allow more flexibility throughout the building.
Many more organizations will use the Ordway than currently can. Now we sit and hope the phone doesn't ring because there is no time in the hall for anybody to use it. That will happily change to everyone's advantage. It frees up time on the mainstage for the Opera, the Ordway's own programs, world music and dance can expand, and the concert hall becomes available to so many other music organizations in the Twin Cities.
Rendering of the Ordway's exterior once the expansion is complete
Image courtesy of St. Paul's Artistic Partnership
Of the more than $50 million raised so far, corporate and foundation funders have committed $19.1 million, individual funders have committed $13.475 million, the City of Saint Paul has committed $3 million and the State of Minnesota has committed $16 million in bonding funds.
If the Partnership can complete the rest of the fundraising in the next few months, construction is scheduled to begin next spring. However Mitchell says - due to the press of productions - if it takes longer to raise the money the next opportunity to break ground will be spring 2013.(1 Comments)
First Penumbra Theatre dropped its annual holiday show "Black Nativity" in order to bring back "I Wish You Love" for a limited run.
Now it's cancelling two other shows in its 2011-2012 season - "Julius by Design" and "Bourbon at the Border."
This is the second time 'Julius by Design' has been removed from a Penumbra season.
The decision, according to Board Chair Bill Stevens, was made in response to lessons learned from the current economy.
These cancellations are painful for all of us - artists, patrons, staff and board. Not only is it disappointing and frustrating, but it strains our relationships - and for that we apologize. This last year taught us some tough and valuable lessons on the vagaries of this economy and its impact on our business. In response, we are cutting over $600,000 of expenses from our current budget, the bulk of which will come from these two shows.
Evidently "I Wish You Love" has been a bright spot in an otherwise bleak year; the show's return to the Penumbra stage has been extended through December 18, due to demand.
The announcement from Penumbra also promised a new five year business plan to return the theater to financial health. The details of the plan are due to be finalized and unveiled this spring.(3 Comments)
Last night news broke that the Minneapolis magazine Utne Reader will be moving its operations to Topeka, Kansas in March. The move is a consolidation on the part of its owner, Ogden Publishing, which bought the magazine six years ago.
Editor-in-Chief David Schimke and his staff will not be moving to Topeka with the magazine. But he did take the time to answer a few questions.
1. In the past six years the Utne Reader hasn't been able to make a profit. Why is that? Have automatic aggregaters like Google Reader replaced digests?
I think it's a little bit that. But the fact is, we've been winning awards; we even upped the price and didn't see a decrease in subscribership. But the advertising just isn't there. We have a small loyal audience, but it's a difficult audience to market to.
2. Is publishing a magazine still a viable business in the modern age?
I do - I think it has to be smaller, with high end production, driven by a niche readership. I think magazines that are niche driven have an opportunity to do really well. Similar to public radio - you have a dedicated audience that's willing to pay for quality. It could be a non-profit, working with a foundation. If you have a niche audience and a really beautiful magazine, I think that would attract more advertising. I still think there's room for print.
3. Have you and the rest of the Minneapolis staff talked about starting up a new magazine in the wake of the Utne's move?
Oh we've certainly bounced a few ideas around, but I think we're all going to just take a deep breath in March. I believe that - the Utne Reader notwithstanding - there is a need here for a really good publication that's driven by storytelling and really high quality features and news. And I think the talent is here.
4. Do you think the reputation of the Utne Reader has in some ways hurt you?
The Utne Reader brand can be both a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, people associate the name with Eric Utne's original template, which was truly revolutionary. The downside is that people assume the magazine hasn't changed with the times and is somehow outdated or quaint. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, given the current media climate, Utne's intellectual balance, eclecticism, and rigorous journalistic standards are even more unique and necessary than they were 10 or 15 years ago. The challenge is to get magazine lovers to stop and take a look, and that's expensive and time consuming.
5. What's the hardest part of seeing the magazine move to Kansas?
I think the hardest part for us is that it's just a labour of love; we weren't doing it for the money or the prestige, but because we really believe in these great articles and thinkers we've presented over the years.
It's so hard to compete with the internet - but I really think this magazine has been an important mouthpiece for the alternative press. We've helped a lot of smaller magazines thrive.
Today at its annual meeting the Minnesota Orchestra announced it had posted an operating deficit of $2.9 million on an annual budget of $30 million.
Chairman Richard Davis said the deficit is attributed to a decrease in endowment revenue, a decrease in earned revenue and an increase in contractual costs.
Davis says in November the Board of Directors approved a strategic business plan that should lead the organization back to financial sustainability by 2013.
The economy has impacted our ability to generate the revenue necessary to keep up with rising fixed costs. Like most in our industry, we've been skillful in managing an out-of-alignment financial structure--but the persistent economic downturn has intensified this fiscal challenge. We know that this imbalance will dramatically escalate in the years ahead unless we reset our model, and this is the work that we must now do.
Some noteworthy numbers:
During the 2010-11 season, the Orchestra's total earned revenue decreased from the prior year by $527,000.
Approximately 70,000 people attended free Minnesota Orchestra events over the course of the year.
Annual operating contributions and gifts were up 1.6 percent over Fiscal 2010, and the total number of donors increased by 9.9 percent over the previous year.
The Orchestra's endowment draw was down by $1.8 million over the prior year.
Minnesota Orchestra reduced total expenses by $376,000--on top of a five percent expense reduction from the prior year--despite salary and benefit increases of 4.1 percent, which were driven mainly by contractual increases.
Looking for a unique gift at a reasonable price?
Tomorrow may be your "black Tuesday."
The Arts and Culture Partnership of St. Paul presents "Raise the Curtain," a one day deal where you can buy half-price tickets to a number of shows and concerts taking place in St. Paul in the coming weeks... and months.
Participating organizations include The Rose Ensemble, the Science Museum of Minnesota, Saint Paul City Ballet, Ballet Minnesota, Steppingstone Theatre, the Fitzgerald Theater, and the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company.
Starting December 1, the Minnesota Historical Society is increasing admission fees at most of its historic sites and museums by $1, in order to make up what it's lost in state government funding.
The state cut funding for the MHS by $1.6 million this past year. More than half of the Society's operating budget comes from the state. With it, the MHS runs 26 historic sites across Minnesota.
In addition to the increase in fees, the Society also eliminated about 19 full-time equivalent staff positions.
The state is providing $20.4 million to the MHS for fiscal year 2012.
You can find a grid of the new fees here.
The last time the MHS increased its fees was in the spring of 2008.
For some people, the construction of the Central Corridor light rail line brings back some old memories, and they're not good ones.
And for Youth Performance Company, the event has inspired a new production that the National Endowment for the Arts decided is worth funding.
YPC is the recipient of a $10,000 grant to develop a new production called "Echoes of Rondo" which makes connections between the current transit project and the creation of Interstate 94, which obliterated the predominantly African American Rondo neighborhood in the 1960s.
The musical will be directed by Jacalyn Knight, composed and choreographed by Kahlil Queen, and performed by local area teen artists. The musical will focus particularly on how these transit projects affected - and continue to affect - young people.
The production is slated to be part of the 2013/2014 season.
You can see the full list of NEA grantees here.
My colleague Alex Friedrich writes MPR's On Campus blog, and last week he decided to spend a day on the campus of MCAD, to find out just what it's like at an art and design school.
MCAD President Jay Coogan
MPR Photo/Tim Post
Here's what Coogan had to say about MCAD's high tuition:
Like other specialized schools, art and design schools in general are top net-tuition schools. It's an expensive form of education (small classes, lots of supplies and equipment), and unlike science, it doesn't get subsidized by the government or other organizations. But we have a very low default rate. We're below the national average -- 6.1 percent vs. 7 percent. That means our students are going out and getting jobs. But we're looking for ways that students won't have to take out more loans - such as by offering more institutional scholarships and then raising money for more financial aid. We're readjusting the financial aid formula so that it's more in line with the discount rate -- so net tuition will be dropping for students. We're not sitting by. We're definitely paying attention to this and doing everything we can to address this.
You can read the rest of Coogan's remarks here.
One of the sources of funding being considered for a new Vikings Stadium is Minnesota's Legacy Amendment.
Tom Powers works on a pottery piece while participating in a Veterans in the Arts class at the Northern Clay Center. (MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson)
MPR's Elizabeth Dunbar took a look at how the money is being used now, and what programs might be lost if Legacy funds were to be reallocated for the stadium.
For larger groups, including CLIMB Theatre in the Twin Cities, the Legacy funds helped them make it through the recession -- and even expand when some traditional funding sources dried up.
"It has kept us alive," said Peg Wetli, CLIMB's executive director.
CLIMB was forced to cut staff salaries in recent years as libraries and school districts cut their programming budgets. The group, which had a $1.1 million budget in the last year, has four full-time staffers, three part-time staffers and hires actors for its productions.
CLIMB has used the funds to perform plays about bullying in schools and has brought theater to preschool children to help them with cognitive and social skills. CLIMB also worked with communities and performed plays about reintegration for troops returning from fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We overcame the barrier of, 'oh the theater is for the elite, educated and people with money,'" she said. "We overcame the geographic barrier. We were there in people's communities and we performed for free."
Dunbar's story also looks at such organizations as Veterans in the Arts, Blue Earth Valley Concert Association, Staples Area Men's Chorus, and Wadena Madhatters Community Theatre. You can read her full report here.
Posted at 9:18 AM on November 18, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
This morning GiveMN released its final numbers, which show a slight drop from what was on the website at midnight on November 16.
For the record, 47,534 donors raised more than $13.4 million for nearly 4000 MN nonprofits.
That's what's printed in the GiveMN news release; as a reporter I prefer more exact numbers, so I went to their website, which shows the following numbers:
This year a random donor was selected each hour and given a "golden ticket" which added $1,000 to their donation. One donor got a "supersized" golden ticket, adding $10,000 to their donation. The winner was Jim Colten and he gave the money to The Raptor Center.
Posted at 2:38 PM on November 17, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
I should know better than to make bets.
In the wee hours of the morning I "bet" that Give to the Max Day would set a new financial record. The closing number was right around $13.5 million, the record was $14m, and in the first year of the drive award money was added after the close of the day, causing an approximate $1 million jump.
But this year was different.
I spoke to GiveMN's Dana Nelson this afternoon, who's hard at work with her colleagues doing some number crunching before issuing final numbers. But she says she doesn't expect the $13.5m number to change signicantly, because award money (from "golden tickets" and the like) was added throughout the day.
The $13.5 million figure also reflects approximately $2 million in matching funds secured by Minnesota nonprofits to encourage donations. These matching grants are not verified directly by GiveMN.
"We don't police that," said Nelson, "It would be almost impossible to do so. But we coach nonprofits on how to get a match, and we encourage them to list the source of the match on their donation page."
Nelson explains that while she does "spot-check" certain matching grants, it would be a logistical nightmare to double-check the details of more than $6 million in matching grants when she's working with close to 4,000 nonprofits.
That brings us to another point of interest. While more than $6 million was offered in matching grants, only about a third of that money was taken advantage of on Give to the Max Day.
Nelson says she hopes those nonprofits with remaining matching monies will use the momentum created by Give to the Max Day to continue to fundraise.
Posted at 12:30 AM on November 17, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
As the clock wound down to 00:00, GiveMN proclaimed these rather awe-inspiring numbers at the top of its website:
47,539 donors raised $13,559,905 for 3,978 MN nonprofits.
Update: as of 9:41am, the totals have been revised downward slightly to now reflect the following:
47,537 donors raised $13,559,530 for 3,978 MN nonprofits.
And while the record set for giving was $14 million in its inaugural year, I'm betting once the prizes and matching dollars have all been accounted for, and the final numbers crunched, this year's total will set a new record.
It has already set records in two other categories: donors and nonprofits.
For reference, here's how things played out in past years:
2009: 38,000 donors raised $14 million for 3,141 MN nonprofits
2010: 42,596 donors raised $10 million for 3,663 MN nonprofits
This year's big winners are as follows -
In the main nonprofit category (which excludes higher ed institutions):
1 Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners $319,938
2 Cretin-Derham Hall $268,909
3 Second Harvest Heartland $256,225
4 THE CONVENT AND ACADEMY OF THE VISITATION $219,522
5 ACADEMY OF HOLY ANGELS $166,501
6 Animal Humane Society $164,707
7 JABBOK FOUNDATION $103,385
8 Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota $103,200
9 Catholic Charities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis $93,390
10 MOUNDS PARK ACADEMY $79,342
In the small nonprofit category (those with budgets under $750,000):
1 JABBOK FOUNDATION $103,385
2 NORTH AMERICAN BEAR CENTER $63,110
3 Clifton House dba Beacon Haven $59,085
4 Wildcat Sanctuary $44,463
5 Helping Paws of Minnesota, Inc. $42,973
6 JEWISH COMMUNITY ACTION $41,591
7 Christians for Biblical Equality $38,119
8 CHURCH OF ST. JOSEPH - RED WING $35,926
9 Students Today Leaders Forever $34,246
10 Project Zawadi Incorporated $33,590
And in the category of higher education nonprofits:
1 St. Olaf College $230,713
2 CONCORDIA COLLEGE CORPORATION $97,923
3 College of Saint Benedict $76,880
4 UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA FOUNDATION $62,992
5 SAINT MARY'S UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA $48,275
6 Hamline University $41,345
7 Luther Seminary $34,120
8 AUGSBURG COLLEGE $26,776
9 Gustavus Adolphus College $26,180
10 Northwestern College $21,224
While none of the participating arts organizations made it into the top ten lists, several fared quite well, including the following:
Springboard for the Arts $46,117
THE CEDAR CULTURAL CENTER INC $43,046
Hennepin Theatre Trust $19,438
NORTH HOUSE FOLK SCHOOL $19,417
MINNESOTA BOYCHOIR $17,302
Minnesota Orchestra $16,757
NATIONAL LUTHERAN CHOIR CORPORATION $12,925
SINGERS MINNESOTA CHORAL ARTISTS $12,150
Serrand Epp dba The MovingCompany $11,750
Tomorrow - or rather, later today - I'll take a closer look at some of the interesting tidbits to come from this day.
(Editor's note: In full disclosure, while I do not participate in Give to the Max Day, my employer does. Over the past 24 hours MPR raised $28,434 through GiveMN.)
I logged on to my computer this morning only to find an inbox crammed full of requests asking me to "Give to the Max" to various and sundry non-profits.
That's right, the annual self-proclaimed "Great Minnesota Give Together" is underway, and as of 9:40am it reports 11,670 donors have contributed $3,433,080 to 2,540 Minnesota nonprofits.
For reference, last year 42,596 donors participated in the event, and Minnesota non-profits received a total of $10,041,021 in donations, matching grants and prize money.
I'll be tracking the numbers throughout the day, and I'll give a final report as soon as midnight rolls around. In the meantime I'd love to hear from you about your experience.
Here's what I'm going to be looking for:
Now that it's in its third year, have non-profits figured out the best way to communicate the "give" message to their constituents? And have Minnesotans re-scheduled their giving to take advantage of the various matches and prizes offered on Give to the Max day? An increase in giving this year over last would certainly point in that direction, but I'll want to hear from both non-profits and individual donors to see how they've adjusted.
Are the same big institutions going to benefit the most from this event each year? Or will their be cross-over, with people giving to organizations that they only learned about through GiveMN?
Also, if you're not participating - either as a non-profit or as a donor - why not?(2 Comments)
It is one of the wonders of the modern age that today's aspiring artist can run his or her own company pretty much with a laptop and a cell-phone, and the occasional trip to Kinko's.
The idea is that you're around this daily creative community, and you have permission to talk to strangers. Unlike at a coffee shop, we're trying to foster conversation around work and ideas. That's something I miss from grad school when I got my M.F.A. - that daily creative community.
Intermedia Arts offers office space for artists looking for a place out of which to base their work.
Thompson calls himself the "curator and host" of the ArtsHub. An artist himself, Thompson's work includes the "Art Shanties" project, and a series of tents designed for creating conversations. So he's naturally interested in the creative use of space to get people engaged and talking to one another.
Thompson says he sees the ArtsHub as an ideal place for freelancers or small performance companies who can't afford their own space.
My sense is that in this economy this is a great resource - people don't need to lay out a lot of money to create their own temporary office space. It seems like everyone is trying to start their own thing right now.
Intermedia Arts lives in a large building, and owns a second smaller building just a short walk away. It's taken its surplus space and converted it into a series of desks and conference rooms.
People interested in using the office space have a choice of a variety of passes that give them access for a day, a week, a month, or more. They can take over a particular desk and leave their materials there, so they don't have to constantly haul them around.
Table Tennis at ArtsHub
Thompson says participants also get to attend a range of meet-ups, including something as casual as a round of table tennis, to Grant Jam Days, where people applying for the same grant can work on their applications together.
The idea is that it will begin with a roundtable discussion around the same grant. Where are you in the process? Wwhat questions do you have? And in some cases a representative can come and answer questions.
One of Thompson's favorite events is the "lunchtime skill share" when people take turns sharing what they know over their lunch break.
I think everybody that I've talked to about the hub has had something to offer to the other members. The example I use is that I'm a sailor and a knot-tier, and I've slowly figured out how I can work it into my artistic practice. Skill sharing allows you to find out what someone is really passionate about in really informal and fascinating way.
For Thompson, a sure sign that the ArtsHub is a success would be for a couple of people to meet each other at Intermedia Arts and end up working on a project together - something that wouldn't have existed otherwise.
The next open house for ArtsHub is Friday December 9.
The annual prize - open to poets currently residing in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, or Wisconsin - will award the author $10,000 as well as a contract for publication of the winning manuscript.
Daniel Slager, Publisher & CEO of Milkweed Editions says the prize will help bring the work of outstanding regional poets to an international stage:
We wanted to establish a prize that encourages and rewards poets substantially, for their important but often neglected contribution to our culture. And as we looked carefully at the numerous poetry prizes already in existence, we saw a number of wonderful national and international prizes, but not as many--certainly not at this financial level--regional prizes.
Finalists for the prize will be selected by the editors of Milkweed Editions, with the winner to be selected by an independent judge. This year, the judge will be Minneapolis poet Peter Campion. The first annual prize-winning collection of poems will be announced in April 2012 and published in November 2012.
Last month Partners in Preservation announced the Basilica of St. Mary was the winning recipient of its grant challenge, awarding it $110,000 to repair and preserve its building.
This morning, Partners in Preservation announced the allocation of the remaining $1 million in grant money to historic and culturally significant sites across the Twin Cities.
Here are the results:
The Basilica of Saint Mary, Minneapolis: $110,000 to repair the Narthex and the Sacristy of the Basilica, including the repair of decorative ceilings, limestone walls and damaged plaster and restoring the historic paint and gold leaf found throughout the structure.
Emerge Career and Technology Center, Minneapolis: $110,000 to restore the library's ornate interior, including surviving 1893 interior woodwork, flooring and plaster walls, along with its distinctive wood windows.
Waterford Iron Bridge, Waterford Township: $95,000 to remove and replace the cracked southeast wing wall.
American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis: $90,000 to restore the historic first floor kitchen, dry storage room and butler's pantry to their original condition.
Pilgrim Baptist Church, Saint Paul: $86,000 to repair heavily damaged sections of brick masonry on the exterior of the building.
Harriet Tubman Center East, Maplewood: $84,000 to update the Center's public restroom facilities at the first floor.
C.S.P.S. Sokol Hall, Saint Paul: $80,000 to install an air conditioning system in the second floor auditorium, which will allow the space to be used for public events year-round.
Historic Pilot Knob, Mendota Heights: $75,000 to bury existing power lines that currently disrupt the natural landscape.
The Soap Factory, Minneapolis: $70,000 toward the repair of the failing roof of the main building.
Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, Saint Paul: $50,000 for brick masonry repair and the repair of the church's prominent concrete columns that define the main entrance of the church.
Fort Snelling Upper Post, Building 67, Hennepin County: $40,000 to restore the rare historic Seth Thomas/Hotchkiss model clock in the clock tower.
Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, Saint Paul: $30,000 to achieve the original architectural vision for the historic ramp with the installation of tower lights and new fencing that is in character with the 1937 structure.
Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery, Minneapolis: $20,000 toward the removal, cleaning, repair and reinstalling of the cemetery's historic fence.
In addition, the remaining 12 finalists, listed below, will each receive $5,000:
Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, Fridley
Chaska Athletic Field, Chaska
Episcopal Church of Transfiguration, Belle Plaine
Fitzgerald Theater, Saint Paul
Hennepin Center for the Arts, Minneapolis
James J. Hill House, Saint Paul
Landmark Center, Saint Paul
Mill Ruins Park, Minneapolis
Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis
Minnesota Transportation Museum, Saint Paul
Washington County Historic Courthouse, Stillwater
Wayzata Depot, Wayzata
Posted at 11:57 AM on November 9, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
The third annual "Give to the Max Day" supporting Minnesota non-profits is a week away, and there are a few changes to the 24-hour give-a-thon worth noting.
The event, which has quickly become Minnesota's biggest fundraiser of the year, starts at midnight on November 16, runs all day Wednesday, and ends at midnight on November 17.
From 10am-9pm the online event will base its operations out of the Mall of America's rotunda, with live performances and giving stations. People who participate at the MOA will receive discounts from participating mall retailers that day.
In other words, the Mall is encouraging you to give, and then encouraging you to spend.
In addition, it's now possible to give online on your smart phone or tablet.
The minimum donation is $10.
The fee assessed on all donations is 2.9%.
And, as in past years, GiveMN will offer several incentives to encourage participation.
Here's how this year's prizes break down:
A $15,000, $10,000 and $7,500 prize grant will be awarded to the top three nonprofit organizations (colleges and universities excluded) which receive the most dollars during Give to the Max Day.
$5,000 prize grants will be awarded to nonprofits in 4th through 10th place.
A $15,000, $10,000 and $7,500 prize grant will be awarded to the top three small nonprofit organizations - with budgets under $750,000 - which receive the most dollars on Give to the Max Day (Nonprofits must register online to compete in this category).
$5,000 prize grants will be awarded to nonprofits in 4th through 10th place in the small nonprofit category.
A $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 prize grant will be awarded to the top three Minnesota colleges or universities which receive the most dollars on Give to the Max Day.
In addition to the 24 "Golden Tickets"--$1,000 prize grants given randomly every hour--one $10,000 "Grand Golden Ticket" will be randomly given at 11:59 p.m. on November 16, 2011.
In its first Give to the Max Day in 2009, GiveMN raised more than $14 million from 38,000 people. In its second year it raised around $10 million, but increased its donor pool to 42,000. It will be interesting to see how the economy effects this year's numbers... which I'll be tracking closely next week.
Editor's Note: I called the Loring Theater last week for an interview when I heard they were cancelling shows, but have yet to hear back from the staff. FYI, Steve Barberio was also a major player in the power shift at the Southern Theater a few years back.
Under his management, both venues came out swinging with very dynamic seasons, but weren't able to build a financial base to support them.
Update 11:44am: Steve Barberio e-mailed me this morning to make a clarification about his role in Southern's programming:
"I did not select any content while on contract with the Southern and the financial difficulties preceded me by several years and extended well beyond my tenure. All content was selected by Jeff Bartlett and my contract ended six weeks after Jeff left. He had put together all content for that upcoming season."
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The newly rechristened Loring Theater in Minneapolis has canceled some shows and relocated others but remains open.
Managing partner Steve Barberio says the 440-seat theater still plans to put on a half-dozen events this year.
Barberio says the Loring is not getting the attendance it needs in the tough economy. But he adds, "We're not closing the doors."
The jewel-box theater on Nicollet Avenue South formerly was the Music Box Theatre, longtime home of the comedy hit "Triple Espresso."
Last January it was renamed to its original name, the Loring Theater. Barberio says the intent was to create a variety theater, with music, movies and theatrical shows.
Barberio says the theater has cut back staff but still has six permanent staff members.
The Loring opened in 1920.
Editor's note: This report comes to you from MPR's Tom Scheck and Tim Nelson. In full disclosure, my position is funded by Legacy Amendment money, so for ethical reasons I do not do any direct reporting on the topic.
St. Paul, Minn. -- A Republican leader says some of his colleagues in the Minnesota Legislature are considering a plan that would rely on a portion of the state's Legacy funds to pay for a new Vikings Stadium.
It's an option they say must be considered as Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers continue to discuss how to pay for a stadium. Other options include ticket taxes, a sports memorabilia tax, slot machines at the state's horse tracks or a new casino in downtown Minneapolis.
But critics say voters didn't intend to use that money for professional sports stadiums when they approved a higher sales tax in 2008.
"I certainly think that taking a look at the Legacy money to fund a stadium is something that should be on the table," said Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, an assistant Majority Leader in the Minnesota House.
There isn't an organized effort by legislative leaders to tap the Legacy funds yet, Daudt said. But there is increasing talk among members and GOP staff that this may be the only way that the Republican-controlled House and Senate pass a Vikings stadium bill.
Daudt said the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund could generate about $50 million annually to finance the stadium. He said that would be enough to pay both the state's and Ramsey County's share but is unsure if that would be the plan.
"You certainly can't argue that the Minnesota Vikings and these sports teams in the state of Minnesota aren't a part of the state's heritage and certainly part of the state's legacy," Daudt said.
The Legacy funding could also make it easier for Republicans to vote for a plan. There is bipartisan opposition to expanding gambling in Minnesota. Republicans fiercely oppose any tax increases. Many argue that a Ramsey County sales tax increase should be subject to a referendum -- a move that Vikings officials said would kill the deal.
Tapping the legacy funds could also face significant opposition. Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, said he would go to court to stop any legislation that would spend Legacy Amendment funds for a Vikings stadium. Using the money for such a purpose would violate voter intent, he said.
"There was no discussion in any of the legislative committee hearings or on the floor of the House and Senate about professional sports and it clearly is contrary to what was discussed during a very extensive campaign in 2008," Cohen said.
Voters in 2008 amended the constitution to require the state to collect a three-eighths of a cent sales tax for the outdoors, clean water, parks and the arts. Supporters of the idea argued that the money would be used to improve the state's quality of life. Minnesota Public Radio is among hundreds of organizations that receive money from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
Officials with outdoors groups also say it's a bad idea. Don McMillan with the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance said even though the plan would not touch funding for the outdoors, parks and clean water, he worries it could be a slippery slope.
"Opening it up to other uses is a dangerous precedent," McMillan said. "Once it starts there, I just fear that they're going to come after the outdoor funds and the clean water funds and try to subvert them."
Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said he hasn't heard of the proposal. He said the team is still committed to an Arden Hills site that relies on a half-cent sales tax in Ramsey County. The team is neutral on where the state's portion of the funds come from, Bagley said.
"Bottom line on the funding source, it's up to the state to determine what makes the most sense," he said.
Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, who chairs the Legacy Committee in the Minnesota House, is also uncertain about the idea. He said he's heard rumblings about using Legacy funds for a stadium but said there have been no formal discussions. Urdahl said the plan would not be his top choice but every possibility should be considered. He also cautioned that other funding mechanisms need to be in place as well.
"I would not be in favor of Legacy money being used to finance the entire portion of that," Urdahl said. "If it came down to using Legacy money, it would have to be cobbled together with something else."
A spokeswoman for the governor said he has not seen the plan and has no comment yet, but he appreciates anyone willing to make a constructive suggestion to settle the stadium issue.(8 Comments)
The folks at Young Artists Initiative in St. Paul say unless things change, they will have to shut the organization's doors.
YAI provides arts education to youth who aren't able to afford more expensive programs. So far it's managed to do this by tapping a large volunteer base, and through donations.
But in a notice sent out to patrons, YAI announced it's calling for a "town hall meeting."
The organization will be presenting a list of needs to those who choose to join us that night. To put it plainly, if we don have enough people step forward to help do the work that will carry the organization forward, YAI will be unable to continue with a 2012 season, and the organization will have no choice but to close its doors.
YAI went on to state that it has "too critically low a number of people running the organization, and we can no longer carry the weight of the company on our own."
The meeting is scheduled for 7pm on November 1 at First Lutheran Church.(1 Comments)
After three weeks of public voting, the Basilica of Saint Mary has been named victorious in a bid for $100,000 to help preserve and maintain its historic building.
MPR Photo/Tom Weber
Partners in Preservation, a joint project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express, is giving out a total of $15.5 million over ten years, focusing on a different community each year.
This year the focus is on preserving buildings in the Twin Cities. Twenty-five historic sites were named as finalists for the $100,000 grant, and the voting public got to pick the winner.
Officials with the Basilica say the funds will be used to make repairs to the Narthex and the Sacristy of the Basilica, including the repair of these rooms' decorative ceilings, limestone walls and damaged plaster while also restoring the historic paint and gold leaf found throughout the structure.
A total of $900,000 in additional grants will be awarded on November 9th to a number of the other Twin Cities participating sites, after review by American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the advisory committee comprised of Twin Cities area civic and preservation leaders, co-chaired by Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis and Mayor Chris Coleman of St. Paul.
The other participating sites are listed below:
• American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis
• Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, Fridley
• Chaska Athletic Park, Chaska
• Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, Saint Paul
• C.S.P.S. Sokol Hall, Saint Paul
• Emerge Career and Technology Center (Old North Branch Library), Minneapolis
• Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Belle Plaine
• Fitzgerald Theater, Saint Paul
• Fort Snelling Upper Post, Building 67, Unincorporated Hennepin County
• Harriet Tubman Center East (Former Saint Paul's Monastery), Minneapolis
• Hennepin Center for the Arts, Minneapolis
• Historic Pilot Knob, Mendota Heights
• James J. Hill House, Saint Paul
• Landmark Center, Saint Paul
• Mill Ruins Park, Minneapolis
• Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis
• Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, Saint Paul
• Minnesota Transportation Museum (Jackson Street Roundhouse), Saint Paul
• Pilgrim Baptist Church, Saint Paul
• Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery, Minneapolis
• The Soap Factory, Minneapolis
• Washington County Historic Courthouse, Stillwater
• Waterford Iron Bridge, Waterford Township
• Wayzata Depot, Wayzata
Posted at 2:12 PM on October 13, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
While we've talked about new job opportunities for Minnesota artists in recent weeks, nationwide employment numbers for dancers, actors and other performing artists have tanked.
Mike Mandel is a Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit Washington think tank. He took a look at a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report and plotted the following chart:
The numbers show that over the past year employment at performing arts companies has dropped a whopping 16%. According to Mandel, that means performing arts employment is now at the lowest level since 1990.
Editor's Note: This story by MPR's Chris Roberts will air on All Things Considered tonight, but I didn't think you'd want to have to wait that long.
A project in St. Paul has won a sizable grant to employ artists to promote economic development along the Central Corridor. The project, called "Irrigate," was awarded 750-thousand dollars by a national consortium of funders, partly because of its potential to be replicated across the U.S.
"Irrigate" is perhaps the largest, most deliberate effort yet in the Twin Cities to harness the creative energy of artists in community development. It's the result of a partnership between the city of St. Paul, the Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Coalition, and St. Paul-based Springboard for the Arts. It came about because of the biggest, costliest, messiest infrastuctural improvement project ever to hit St. Paul, the Central Corridor Light Rail line. Or as, St. Paul Director of Arts and Culture Joe Spencer affectionately refers to it, "the trench."
"And that trench is the recipient of a billion dollar infrastructure project," he said. "And this is a way to sort of irrigate that investment out into the neighborhoods that surround Central Corridor."
"Irrigate" stands out, Springboard for the Arts Executive Director Laura Zabel said, because of the faith it places in the ability of artists to help businesses and neighborhood groups solve problems.
"We believe that artists are creative thinkers and they're entrepeneurs, and they makes them particularly well suited to do this work," she said. "They're able to look at something that other people might view as a problem or a crisis and turn in it into an opportunity."
"Irrigate" will extend for three years, about as long as it will take the Central Corridor line to be built. First, it will train artists in one day workshops on community organizing and economic development skills. They'll learn how to work with people who speak a different language, with businesses that have been dealt a blow by light rail construction, or neighborhood groups contending with livability issues. Then a peer review panel will award grants of up to a thousand dollars to artists who come up with the most innovative projects.
"Some of those are going to look like creative marketing ideas," Zabel said. "They're going to look like creative events. Some of them are going to look like permanent public art, or ways of engaging a neighborhood or community around a particularly difficult issue."
Up to 100 artists will be awarded grants in the first year. The city of St. Paul's Joe Spencer thinks it's unrealistic to expect that all their ideas will take hold.
"But if one really strikes a chord and we can find a way then to take that to scale, it's going to be transformative, not only for Central Corridor, but I think for the whole city of St. Paul," he said.
The 750-thousand dollar grant for the project comes from ArtPlace, a coalition of national funders and federal agencies led by the National Endowment for the Arts. It chose "Irrigate" because of its potential to be a national model for how to engage artists in infrastructure and economic development. ArtPlace President Carol Coletta says in the short term, artists can help St. Paul communities survive the massive upheavel that accompanies installing a light rail line.
"In the long term I think what they'll do is leave an art legacy in these neighborhoods along the transit corridor which will create new brand and new value for those neighborhoods and the people who live in them," she said.
Officials with "Irrigate" have already raised about 200-thousand dollars for the project. Combined with the ArtPlace grant, that's nearly a million dollars. Laura Zabel of Springboard for the Arts says that level of commitment reflects the need for creative ideas along the Central Corridor.
"And that also creates an opening to really demonstrate the power that artists have when they have the skills and the training to do this work," she said.
Zabel has come up with a way to frame the Irrigate project that has almost bumper sticker appeal. This isn't about artists asking for more, she says. It's about communities knowing they can ask for more from their artists.(1 Comments)
It's been an interesting year for the McKnight Foundation Dance and Choreography Fellowships. They were the mishandled funds at the center of the Southern Theater meltdown, which saw that West Bank Institution dismantled and reconstituted.
However while much has been said of the Southern, there not been much public discussion of the Fellowships themselves.
Today the McKnight Foundation announced the program will be managed by Northrop Concerts and lectures, which oversees the Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota.As in the past the program will award three $25,000 fellowships for dancers and three $25,000 fellowships for choreographers.
"The biggest change will be the international residency component, which we are all very excited about," says McKnight Program Officer Laura Zimmerman. "That's so new I think that none of us know how it will turn out."
The program will now offer a $10,000 grant to fund one choreographer each year to collaborate with Twin Cities dance artists and showcase works-in-progress. There will be additional money to cover expenses and studio costs.
Zimmerman sees it as an opportunity to enhance Minnesota dance here and elsewhere.
"Have people who come in with new ideas, new ways of working, new relationships, and be able to interact with our dance community and then bring some of that here, and take some of what is happening here out into the world," she says.
Zimmerman says one of the attractions of the Northrop collaboration is to tap into the expertise of director Ben Johnson. She says there will be opportunities for both dancers and choreographers.
"I think Ben will be able to facilitate opportunities and connections for people outside of Minnesota and that's a great improvement to the program," she says.
Johnson is also very jazzed by the opportunity. He spoke from Edinburgh, Scotland whre he is attending the International Arts Festival to see the premier of the Scottish Ballet presentation which will open the Northrop season in the fall.
"When McKnight approached us it really aligned with the new vision of how we wanted to really support Twin Cities-based artists - kind of with a twist - and really align them with our international profile and then our national networks, and really think about what ways we could leverage the resources of the university to really highlight and support and inspire Minnesota artistry," he said.
Johnson says the choreographer selection panel will now include people from outside Minnesota, which will help spread the word about work being developed here. He says that will also be true of the international residency, which he believes will also bring greater recognition to the actual dance spaces in Minnesota.
The opening of the new Cowles Center next month, and then the renovation of the Northop itself will be a significant boost to the dance venues in the Twin Cities. The Northrop is now closed for the building work, but Johnson sees that as an opportunity to work with other venues and spaces.
"So the opportunity for this fellowship to happen is perfect," he said.
Neither Johnson nor Zimmerman believes the problems at the Southern have hurt the fellowships themselves. Indeed Zimmerman says she was extremely heartened by the way the McKnight Board quickly stepped in when it heard about the problems and worked hard to make sure the artists who faced losing grant money were made whole.
"It was a crazy, stressful couple of months, she admits. "But it was also incredibly affirming."
"To my mind the reputation of the program remained solid," she continued. "And people were just really hopeful that it would continue, and that it would continue in some place that really would have the administrative backbone to support it."
The Fellowships have been administered this year by Springboard for the Arts, and it will continue working with the current fellows. Work is already underway for the 2012 program and details are expected to be announced in October.
Preliminary numbers indicate 48,350 tickets were issued to the 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival, down 3.7% from last year's record of 50,222 tickets. But this year also had two fewer productions - 167 instead of 2010's 169.
In a press release issued by the festival earlier today, Executive Director Robin Gillette said she's proud of this year's numbers.
"The past several years have seen enormous growth in the festival's attendance and we're happy to see those new audience members have become loyal Fringers in their own right.
"The numbers may be down a tad, but it was still a blockbuster year," said Gillette. "And what's more important to me than the numbers is the overwhelmingly positive response we got from participating artists, audiences and volunteers."
Preliminary estimates of this year's ticket sales total $357,567, down 3.1% over last year. Festival organizers attribute the discrepancy between revenue and tickets issued to a price increase for the festival's Ultra Pass, which offers holders an unlimited number of tickets for a set fee.
Meanwhile, the 19th annual Minnesota Fringe Festival has already been scheduled: Thursday August 2 through Sunday August 12, 2012.(1 Comments)
Call me a little late to the party, but I just saw this video of an installation of dance, lighting and music in New York's Standard Hotel. As you can see (via the not-so-subliminal imagery throughout) funding came in large part from Target.
So what I want to know is - when's Target going to bring the bright lights and hot moves to the Mini-Apple? Don't forget your homies!
The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded $200k to Hennepin Theatre Trust to revitalize vacant private and public spaces along Minneapolis' main thoroughfare, Hennepin Avenue.
According to a news release Hennepin Theatre Trust, along with the Walker Art Center, the Cowles Dance Center and Artspace, will use the grant to "begin the planning process to re-invent Hennepin Avenue as an arts-inspired cultural corridor stretching from the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to the Mississippi Riverfront."
Hennepin Theatre Trust runs the Orpheum, State and Pantages theaters, all located on Hennepin Avenue. In addition to the Walker Art Center and the Cowles Dance Center, other cultural stops along the the avenue include Burnet Gallery and the Minneapolis Central Library (designed by Cesar Pelli).
The Minnesota History Center
Image courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
Each summer the Minnesota Historical Society hosts two concert series; Nine Nights of Music takes place on the lawn of the Minnesota History Center on Tuesday nights, while the Mill City Museum on the Minneapolis riverfront hosts the Mill City Live concert series for seven consecutive Thursdays.
Tomorrow Chris Osgood and the "Mill City Rockers" are supposed to open the Mill City Live series, but unless Governor Mark Dayton and the GOP reach an agreement before then, that too will be cancelled.
For the first time in its history, the National Endowment for the Arts looked at future job prospects for a variety of artist occupations in Artist Employment Projections through 2018. The data are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)' Occupational Outlook Handbook: 2010-11.
Happily for artists, the news is good overall. Here's an excerpt from the report's summary:
This report examines the projected growth rate for artist occupations through 2018, over which time artist occupations will increase by 11 percent, compared with an overall increase in the labor force of 10 percent.
The artist occupations with the highest projected growth rates are museum technicians and conservators (26 percent), curators (23 percent), landscape architects (20 percent), interior designers (19 percent), architects (16 percent), writers and authors (15 percent), and multi-media artists and animators (14 percent).
Artist occupations likely to increase at a rate on par with the growth of the overall U.S. labor force are: graphic designers and actors (both 13 percent), art directors, photographers, and film and video editors (12 percent), and fine artists (9 percent), including painters, sculptors, and illustrators.
The artist occupations with the lowest projected growth rates are choreographers (5 percent), fashion designers (1 percent), floral designers (-3 percent), and media announcers (-4 percent).
The NEA note explores expected trends for more than a dozen artist and cultural occupations, including designers, writers, fine and multimedia artists, archivists, architects, camera operators, and musicians. In addition to occupation growth rate, the note also looks at the projected competition for jobs as well as the industry trends and macroeconomic factors that influence the demand for arts workers.
The Minnesota Historical Society... the Perpich Center for Arts Education... the Minnesota State Arts Board... these are just a few of the cultural organizations that are closed today due to the state government shutdown.
Some venues are partially affected by the shutdown - for instance the Minnesota Zoo is closed, but its summer concert series continues.
Others narrowly missed being shut down, such as Interact, a center for visual and performing artists with disabilities. The government pays Interact to mentor and care for 125 adults with a variety of physical and mental challenges.
Initially, care providers such as Interact were not considered "essential services," and so for weeks the organization prepared for a shutdown.
It wasn't until a staff member read the court ruling on MPR.org on Wednesday that they realized that they would still be paid for their work. Interact's Sally Moore called the Department of Human Services this morning just to make sure.
The past few weeks have felt like a ride at Valley Fair. We encouraged staff to find summer jobs, and so they did. So we're now working that out. We've just lost weeks worth of productivity.
Moore says the budget negotiations have been so secretive that it was almost impossible to get any information via official channels.
Executive Director Jeanne Calvit says the staff was planning on working anyway, because they couldn't not serve their clients.
These folks are living in group homes that are not staffed - we can't just send them home, because they don't have people there to look after them.
For a while the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona was concerned it would have to move elsewhere, because its annual festival takes place on the campus of Winona State University. Fortunally MNSCU is still up and running, and GRSF's Doug Scholz-Carlson says the run should be unaffected.
Jeff Prauer of the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council says his office will continue operation with cash on hand, which should last for 3 to 4 months.
We have an Arts Activities Support program deadline on July 11, with panel reviews in mid-September. We will continue to process those applications in the hope that the shutdown would be over by the end of September. Since we don't provide general operating support, I can't tell you at this point which specific organizations would be affected.
The other regional councils have varying cash reserves; some will be able to stay open for a month, others up to six months.
For more on how the shutdown is affecting the arts, click here to read reporting by Susannah Schouweiler at mnartists.org.
For more on the shutdown in general, click here.
Today in the commentary section of MPR.org, economist Ann Markusen argues that hammering education with disproportionate budget cuts is a poor economic choice, because artists contribue significant revenue to the state economy. Here's an excerpt:
Take arts program graduates, for example. New evidence from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) refutes the "starving artist" stereotype. Of 13,600 graduates from 154 U.S. public and private college arts programs, conservatories and arts high schools -- including two in Minnesota -- 81 percent found jobs soon after graduation. Their current unemployment rates (6 percent) are substantially below the national average, and their job satisfaction levels are very high.
Artists and designers are core employees in our cultural industries. Minnesota's nationally prominent publishing, advertising and architecture firms, for instance, rely heavily on the creativity and training of the state's arts grads. More than 10 percent of the advertising industry's workforce consists of visual artists, writers and designers who provide the crucial creative content. Minnesota arts also create jobs in the public and nonprofit sectors. Think of the cast and crew that University of Minnesota English grad Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" has supported for decades, and the income the show has brought back to Minnesota.
Markusen goes on to talk about how artists contribute to the productivity of non-arts industries, too. She says arts grads are key to fueling the 21st century economy, because many of them are entrepreneurs who will start up their own businesses, and may eventually create jobs for others.
You can read the full commentary here.
Ann Markusen is director of the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a SNAAP National Advisory Board member. (MPR photo/Euan Kerr)
The Southern Theater in Minneapolis
MPR Photo/Chris Roberts
This morning, Chris Roberts took a closer look at the new model, how the community is reacting, and interviewed the last man standing, general manager Damon Runnals. Here's an excerpt:
Runnals said the Southern's new business plan is designed to keep the building open, pay his salary, and buy time for the organization to re-imagine itself. He envisions the Southern becoming a space geared toward mid-career artists trying to take their work to the next level. But will the Southern of old ever return?
"No," Runnals said. "I don't think the same Southern exists. I think the building will, but I honestly believe a new Southern is emerging."
What that new Southern becomes, Runnals said, is for its board and the community to decide.
You can listen to the full story by clicking on the audio link below:(4 Comments)
The Minnesota State Arts Board is preparing for a shutdown.
While it's not yet sure whether the state will have to shut down on July 1 over a budget stalemate, the Arts Board - which oversees grants to artists and organizations across the state - has begun looking at what might happen in a worse case scenario. The key message is this: No Arts Board grant payments would be made during a shutdown.
Here's what the state agency has posted on its website:
Will the Arts Board continue to operate if there is a shutdown?
The State is in the process of determining which critical functions might continue to operate if there is a shutdown. It is likely that only those State services concerning life, health, safety, and personal custodial activities would continue to operate during a shutdown. That determination will ultimately be made by the Courts.
Because the Arts Board does not provide those kinds of services, it is likely that the Arts Board will not continue to operate during a shutdown.
Will the regional arts councils continue to operate if there is a shutdown?
Some might, some might not.
Regional arts councils are independent nonprofit organizations. They are not required to close if a shutdown occurs. However, the State of Minnesota is their principal source of funding. Since the legislature has not approved either the State general fund appropriations, or the arts and cultural heritage fund Legacy Amendment appropriations for fiscal year 2012-13, regional arts councils may not have the resources to operate during a shutdown.
Please contact the regional arts council in your area for information about its specific plans for operating if there is a shutdown.
How might Minnesota State Arts Board applicants and grantees be affected if there is a state government shutdown?
Grant payments--Much of the State's financial systems and supporting personnel would not be operating after June 30, if there is a shutdown.
No Arts Board grant payments would be made during a shutdown.
Contracts and contract amendments--If the Arts Board is not operating during a shutdown, it will not be able to execute contracts or contract amendments.
Review and approval of grant applications--The Arts Board would postpone any scheduled meetings, grant application review panels, any other programs or services that are scheduled to take place during a shutdown.
Fiscal year 2012 Operating Support grants are scheduled to be approved at the Arts Board's July 12-13 meeting. If a shutdown occurs during or prior to those dates, the meeting might be postponed.
Contact with the Arts Board--The Arts Board office would likely be closed. Staff would likely not be available to return calls or e-mails while a shutdown is underway.
The Minnesota State Arts Board promises to update its website with the latest details.
How do you thank thousand, if not millions, of people for their support of public broadcasting?
If you're the BBC, you serenade them, while featuring some of the best musical talent you know.
Of course, the method of payment for the BBC is quite different from that of public radio stations in the United States...
Photo by Greg Helgeson
The Detroit Orchestra went on strike for six months.
The Philadelphia Orchestra declared bankruptcy.
Such stories of orchestras under financial stress are on the minds of close to a thousand people in the Twin Cities this week for the annual League of American Orchestras conference.
In fact, this morning's plenary session is titled "Red Alert!" Here's the description:
The warning signals have been there for years: persistent deficits, less-than-packed houses; concerned patrons and funders questioning continued support, communities that are changing and asking more of us than we ably deliver; and too many concerts that are not aligned with the changing nature of demand.
Despite great sacrifices from musicians and staffs, and stepped up giving from boards and volunteers, too many orchestras--though not all, for sure--are in critical condition. We can and must act--first by speaking openly and frankly about our challenges, and next, by looking deeply at how we operate.
You can find out more about the conference, and about the challenges orchestras face, by listening to Euan Kerr's report:
Posted at 3:09 PM on June 3, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
The Southern Theater
The Southern Theater has announced it's making some changes, although the details of those changes remain vague at this time.
My colleague Chris Roberts is pursuing the details this afternoon, and we'll update accordingly, but in the meantime, here's what we know:
For now, the Southern Theater has been reduced to a staff of one. The Board of Directors has named 32-year old Damon Runnals as General Manager. Up until now Runnals has served as the theater's production and operations manager since 2008.
The position of Executive Director, held by Gary Peterson, is being eliminated as of June 10. Peterson has been elected to the Southern's Board of Directors. His position is the ninth position to be eliminated in recent weeks.
The Southern's budget for the next year totals $165,600. This is a marked decrease of its past budget totalling approximatley $1.1 million.
According to Anne Baker, chair of the board of directors, "This plan allows us to stabilize and to focus on the chronic issue of negative cash flows caused by organizational, strategic, managerial, and operational problems."
"For at least seven years, the theater has shouldered too much of the financial risk of presenting and producing performances of dance, music, theater, and film, and has not effectively made the case to enough individuals, foundations, and corporations that donations, sponsorships, and underwriting will produce sufficient added value to merit full support," said Baker.
In a release the Southern said it's new plan involves "keeping it simple by establishing a reliable platform of earned income." Just how that will look wasn't immediately clear.
More as we know it...
Posted at 9:13 AM on June 1, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
Laura Zabel, Executive Director of Springboard for the Arts, knows very well just how important the arts are to a state's economy. And that's not just because it's her job.
Zabel grew up in Kansas, but upon graduation from college moved to Minnesota where there are more opportunities for artists. Zabel herself has proven to be a great asset to the Minnesota arts scene.
This past Saturday, the odds became even worse for Kansas artists; Governor Sam Brownback line-item vetoed funding for the Kansas Arts Commission (totalling $689,000), thereby making Kansas the first state without an arts agency.
Brownback justified the move by saying "In difficult fiscal times such as these, the state must prioritize how to spend its limited resources and focus its attention on providing core services."
For Zabel, the math just didn't add up. Today on minnesotaplaylist.com she's published an open letter to Governor Brownback, showing how her own decision to leave Kansas has translated to a financial loss for the state.
There's a financial consequence: In the last 13 years, I've paid approximately $22,000 in state income taxes and $15,000 in state sales tax. I bought a car, a house, had a wedding - all in Minnesota. That money could have gone to the Sunflower State instead of the Gopher State.
Beyond that, since I moved to Minnesota, my entire family has moved here, too. They moved here, in part, because they also care about the arts. None of them work directly in the arts, but they see cultural opportunity as a necessary part of a community they want to live in. So, three adult children who grew up in Kansas, took advantage of its public education and other services and then chose to pay their taxes, make their livelihood, volunteer, vote and serve in another state. Plus, two retired parents who made their whole careers in Kansas, who then chose to spend their retirement years and income in another state.
Just for the 5 members of my immediate family who have relocated to Minnesota, I estimate that Kansas has given up about $100,000 in state and sales tax income so far (not to mention the numerous other ways that we contribute to the local economy.) By that calculation, your veto of the Arts Commission budget only has to convince a handful of young, energetic college graduates that they'd be better off somewhere else for Kansas to be worse off financially because of this decision.
Zabel says in her 13 years in Minnesota, not one single person has questioned her decision to leave her home state; it was obvious to everyone that it was the right choice. And isn't that kind of sad for Kansas?
Artist's rendering of what the renovated Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre would look like.
The gift, which totals $400,000, is the largest donation to date and the largest individual donation to the theatre in its history.
The gift is enough to fund two parts of a four-phase remodeling and expansion project. It will fund improvements to the theater's accessibility as well as enclose the theater's gazebo, creating a year-round space that can be used for rehearsals, meetings and receptions.
In conjunction with the gift, the FMCT is launching a $100,000 matching campaign to fund interior renovation efforts.
The Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre enters its 65th season on July 1.
How do you get an artist to pay attention to you? Make them laugh.
And that's just what Andy Sturdevant has been doing of late. In honor of Springboard for the Arts 20th anniversary, he's been taking viewers into his magical "Wayback Machine" to see the organization's offerings through a particularly retro lens.
Ranee Ramaswamy, founder of Ragamala Dance and Theater
Photo by Ed Bock
The honor is bestowed each year upon an artist who has made "significant contributions to the quality of our state's cultural life over the course of their career." It also comes with a $50,000 cash award.
It's a significant recognition for a woman who only started dancing professionally at the age of 30, but went on to create a company that has earned national accolades by making an ancient Indian dance form not just accessible but enticing to modern audiences.
"This is the first time a dancer has received this award, and for the McKnight Foundation to have chosen Bharatanatyam (classical south Indian dance) as the art form makes it all the more exciting," Ramaswamy wrote in an e-mail. "This has been my life's work, spreading the greatness of this dance form all throughout Minnesota for the last 30 years. I was looking at a map of Minnesota the other day and I couldn't find a town that I haven't visited! It feels wonderful to be recognized for doing something that I care so much about -- educating western audiences about Indian dance and culture -- and I plan to continue teaching, choreographing, and performing for many more years."
In addition to staging traditional Bharatanatyam performances, Ragamala Dance and Theater has also collaborated with artists from a variety of other backgrounds, including tap, jazz, ballet, African dance, Japanese drumming and poetry.
Previous McKnight Distinguished Artists include publisher Emilie Buchwald, composer and choral director Dale Warland, sculptor Judy Onofrio, writer Bill Holm, theater director Bain Boehlke, printer Kinji Akagawa and sculptor Siah Armajani.
What does it take to convince skeptics that the arts are essential to our culture and to education, and therefore deserve our funding?
Mary Kay and Bob Zabel think arts advocates need a new, and better argument. On minnesotaplaylist.com they write the new argument should run along the lines of "Art is essential because art is language."
Many individuals with disabilities face challenges in the area of communication; they may have difficulty producing speech; they may rely on alternative communication strategies that are not readily accessible to others; they may find typical communication too emotionally charged; they may have emotional or behavioral blocks to using speech at all. For these individuals, some sort of alternate, but fairly universal, language is necessary, and this is where the arts can play an important role.
As educators in the area of emotional/behavioral disability, we have seen many examples of the power of story telling, writing, theatre, music, and visual arts to assist students and adults to more completely understand and express their needs. We have observed with disbelief as emotionally inaccessible, street smart kids hold profound conversations about feelings and behavior with a puppet; have heard kids quote song lyrics as a way to describe their emotions; have seen not only feelings, but actual information come out of a person's drawing or painting as they create with different art media.
Kay and Zabel cite numerous instances in which an arts program provided children with new tools for living with mental illness, managing anger, and sharing their stories.
You can read the full essay here.
Dan Keplinger is the star of the documentary "King Gimp." Born with cerebral palsy Keplinger has severe speech problems, but uses his painting to communicate his ideas.
Posted at 12:08 PM on May 25, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
In an e-mail sent out today she writes:
Dear friends & colleagues,
After great and of course very difficult deliberation, I've made the decision to leave the Southern Theater after more than 5 years of truly rewarding work. I am especially proud of the new music program that was created less than 3 years ago, which is now so vital to the Twin Cities' music & performance scene, evidence of an underrepresented programmatic niche that I -- more than ever -- believe needs to be cultivated & nurtured. This is the work I'm going to continue to do independently and within organizations & structures that, at this time, can support artists & new projects most effectively.
To the amazing artists I've worked with closely at the Southern: Thank you for sharing your talents, creative aspirations, and performance visions with me. I am confident that my move will ultimately serve to support your work more fully.
To Southern patrons & supporters, staff (past and present), partners, co-presenters, sponsors, members of the press, and to my performing art presenter colleagues: I get very emotional thinking about all the ways in which each of you have supported, encouraged and championed the very important programming -- specifically new work, new series & festival concepts, and long-lead projects by independent artists -- that's happened on the Southern stage these past 5 years but also long before my time at the theater. Being a part of this programmatic mission has shaped me in substantial ways, and will very much remain my active focus.
With gratitude & great optimism --
Management for the Southern Theater has been mainly quiet since it announced it was laying off five staff, and cutting hours for the remaining employees. The venue has cancelled much of its programming, and is now only showing previously scheduled performances by local artists.
A house had a wall torn off on Sheridan Ave. Monday, May 23, 2011 after a tornado ripped through Minneapolis, Minn. Sunday. (MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson)
The Minneapolis Foundation and Greater Twin Cities United Way are providing up to $200,000 in matching funds on donations made to the "Minnesota Helps - North Minneapolis Recovery Fund" in the wake of yesterday's storm and tornado damage which killed one person and injured 29 others.
All donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $200,000 to help the residents of North Minneapolis.
The Minneapolis Foundation and Greater Twin Cities United Way are each contributing $100,000. Donations are being accepted via GiveMN.org. For this particular campaign GiveMN.org is waiving its 2.9 percent credit card processing fee.(1 Comments)
I must admit, when I first reported on the MN Arts Count back in March, I thought "really? You're going to count ALL the artists in Minnesota in just seven weeks?"
Turns out the Minnesota State Arts Board has realized that finding all of those artists may take a little more time. Today the MSAB announced it's extending the count to May 31. It was originally set to close at the end of April.
According to MSAB Executive Director Sue Gens, "there are so many arts and community events in May where we can further promote participation in MN Arts Count that we felt that extending the deadline was prudent."
The Arst Board's definition of "art" is quite broad, and is hoping to get an initial estimate of the following:
- Individuals: anyone who, professionally or personally, sings, acts, dances, writes, draws, paints, sculpts, illustrates, photographs, films, knits, weaves, directs, plays an instrument, composes, shares stories, designs or engages in any other form of creative expression.
- Businesses/organizations that support, host, produce or perform creatively: venues, restaurants, coffee houses, taverns, galleries, theaters, groups, troupes, bands, ensembles, companies, local governments, schools, community education departments, churches, arenas, festivals, fairs, programs, businesses, social service agencies, or any other type of organization which displays, hosts, or otherwise supports creative expression in the state of Minnesota.
The state legislature directed the State Arts Board and the state's eleven regional arts councils to conduct the census to help measure the influence of arts in the state.
You can participate in the MN Arts Count here.
Posted at 10:27 AM on May 5, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
The Southern Theater has failed to reach its $400,000 fundraising goal by its self-appointed deadline (as of yesterday afternoon the perfermance venue had raised just $95,000), but rather than take that as a sign of defeat, the organization is going to move ahead.
Because it did not meet its goal right away -- the deadline has now been extended and is unspecified -- the theater on Wednesday cut five positions, including part-time curators for dance and theater. The Southern also reduced the hours of its remaining employees, so that four people will account for 2.5 full-time jobs.
He then went on to quote Board Chair Anne Baker as saying, "We're still optimistic about preserving this wonderful community asset for future generations."
Similarly, in Euan Kerr's reporting of the layoffs, he writes:
Peterson sounded sad as a result of the layoffs, but he is an optimist, and he remains ever hopeful. He says just looking back over the last few days he sees a remarkable effort, and change in an organization he hopes to lead back to strength.
"We have made more progress in the last three weeks than in the last three years," he said.
Optimism implies "we think everything is going to be okay" which seems a little passive. Maybe a better message would be "we're in a panic?"
For the past thirty years the Southern Theater stage has been home to more dance concerts than any other stage in the Twin Cities.
Ten days ago the Southern Theater's board and administrative staff named tonight as its deadline for raising $400,000, a sum they said was necessary to keep the theater running without major layoffs and programming changes.
So I went to the Southern Theater's annual fundraiser "Southern Exposure" - the culminating event in the ten-day campaign - in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of just what the organization is going through, and just what are its chances of pulling through.
BTW - there are two stories you should read if you haven't already to better understand the background on this story. Rohan Preston writes about the financial mismanagement that led to the McKnight Foundation pulling its support of the theater here.And Sheila Regan outlines the historical context - which in part led to the Southern's most recent financial crisis - here.
What both those articles show, in short, is that the Southern Theater is in a financial mess, and that this situation is nothing new. It has simply gotten worse.
And perhaps that is why fundraising over the past ten days hasn't been more successful.
As of 5:30pm today, according to Executive Director Gary Peterson, approximately 350 individual donations had come in. But there wasn't much to show for in terms of substantial donations from corporations or foundations.
According to Peterson, one New York foundation had made a promise of $50,000 if it could be matched in the Twin Cities. To date, no local corporation or foundation has made such a contribution.
Tonight's event could have been better attended, as well. According to Southern staffer Kate Nordstrom, they sold approximately 150-170 tickets for the event, at $125 per seat. The theater seats 213, and according to its website, can comfortable host up to 290. Many of those who showed up were artists who perform at the Southern - Adam Levy, Ananya Chatterjea, and Dominique Serrand, among others: not the sort of people who can offer up thousands of dollars at the drop of a hat.
With its silent and live auctions and various other games designed to part people from their money, the party raised well over $20,000 - we'll learn the final numbers early next week. But that is just a fraction of what the institution needs to remain viable.
According to Board Chair Anne Baker, the Southern had already raised more than $50,000 in individual contributions by the party's start (although she wouldn't specify how much). Speaking at the beginning of the evening, Baker said the Southern set out to raise $400,000 in part "to be accountable for past mistakes and to move forward allowing the Southern to continue presenting its work while building a sustainable business model."
But frankly, it is a transparent explanation of past errors, and a clear path toward future financial responsibility that has so far been missing from the Southern's story. While the Southern management put out a sort of question and answer sheet on its website, many of the statements left me with further questions.
We have not updated our operating plan for more than four years. Why?
We did not conduct an appropriate amount of fundraising to pay down the amount of the borrowed funds. Again, why?
It is our belief that no individual personally benefited directly from the borrowing against McKnight programming funds and that no embezzlement of funds occurred.
"Belief?" How can you not know?
I asked Gary Peterson, how is it that amidst a recession, and with a history of financial problems, the Southern Theater did not tighten its belt like other organizations, but instead launched more ambitious and costly programming, including bringing in cutting-edge musicians from New York and elsewhere?
His response: "We pushed our programming specifically to get the community more engaged and invested in the Southern. Did we do too much, too fast? Maybe."
Talking with people mingling on the Southern stage, I found a myriad of opinions about the state of the Southern.
Dominique Serrand, who lived through the demise of his own company Theatre de la Jeune Lune, blamed the hypocrisy around arts funding:
"In this country if you want to survive as an arts organization, there are days you have to take money from the right drawer and put it in the left [referring to the Southern's commingling of funds]. Really, for any arts organization to survive in this climate is a miracle."
Patrick Scully, of Patrick's Cabaret, who got his start performing on the Southern stage, blames the 501(c)(3) non-profit structure:
"The whole framework is not sustainable. Boards of directors are made up of volunteers, and the staff have to give their blood, sweat and tears to keep an organization alive. It's a very difficult system to keep going."
But David O'Fallon, head of the Minnesota Humanities Commission, and longtime arts education leader, places equal blame on the Southern's leadership.
"They've had a board in crisis for 3-4 years now. It's not a question of the artistic quality of what goes on here, it's the management."
When asked what he thinks of the explanation that the current Southern board inherited a legacy of financial mismanagement, O'Fallon responds "Bulls**t."
"If after three years you're still saying 'we're dealing with a legacy of mismanagement' - well that means you really haven't been dealing with it, have you?"
Still, O'Fallon was there tonight to support the Southern, because, as many people said throughout the evening, the performing arts venue plays a key role within the broader arts ecosystem.
It's doubtful that the Southern reached its goal tonight of $400,000, but that doesn't mean the 101-year-old venue will shut its doors. Kate Nordstrom says early in the coming week there will be updates on the theater's financial situation. Some possible deals are in their early stages, and so we'll only learn the details as they are made available.
And perhaps that is the greatest frustration with this story; we are only given bits and pieces to muddle over, and never a clear view of the whole.(1 Comments)
The executive director of the Southern Theater, Gary Peterson says he is "cautiously hopeful" his organization will raise the $400,000 it says it needs to stay afloat.
But Peterson says the Southern may not have all the money by the self imposed deadline of tomorrow night. In a conversation earlier today with MPR's Euan Kerr, Peterson said the following:
To be sure, it's entirely possible we are going to fall short by some amount from the $400,000 goal. However there are a number of things in the works that, still, if they all happen, will put us above the goal.
The Southern's board launched the emergency drive last week to raise money to pay off outstanding debts. This in the wake of news the McKnight Foundation had withdrawn its support from the performane venue when it realized the Southern had used dance fellowship money to instead operate the building.
Peterson says the board is meeting daily to discuss the situation:
As we've been going along we have been forming up some contingencies: what does it take to go for two weeks, what does it take to go for three months and a year... and on what kind of basis?
Peterson says $400,000 is what the organization needs in order to make a decent stab at staying open for another hear and to get back on firm financial footing. The theater must also return a further $300,000 dollars to the McKnight Foundation. He says he has seen angry reactions to the Southern's financial situation in comments sections on the news sites from people questioning how it got to this point. But he's also received support:
People have a right to be angry and express it. I get that, But we have had just over 250 gifts since last Thursday evening at 8pm when we started this particular drive.
Peterson says the organization could really use something closer to a million dollars, but knows that's not a realistic possibility.
Tomorrow night the Southern is hosting its annual fundraiser "Southern Exposure," featuring both a silent and live auctions.(1 Comments)
Park Square Theatre
Photo by Teresa Boardman
Park Square Theatre, which is in the midst of a $4.2 million campaign, has just been given a big push toward its goal.
The theatre just received $600,000 in new gifts, including $350,000 from The St. Paul Foundation, $200,000 from the F. R. Bigelow Foundation and $50,000 in new gifts from individuals.
Including the most recent gifts, the theater has now raised nearly $3.2 million, or 75% of its campaign goal.
The "Next Stage Campaign" is intended to fund, among other things, the construction of a second stage, and provide Park Square with the resources to double its programming.
According to Artistic Director Richard Cook, the St. Paul Foundation gift is the largest single grant in the theatre's 35-year history.
In a release issued today, Park Square also announced the theatre has already sold more tickets this season than in all of last year's record-breaking season, with two shows yet to open (Opus by Michael Hollinger opens May 13 and Panic by Joe Goodrich opens June 17).
Attendance to date is 57,242 compared with last year's total attendance of 55,832.(2 Comments)
This evening the leaders of the Southern Theater sent out an e-mail to its supporters, with an empassioned plea for help. The bottom line: the performing arts venue needs to raise $400,000 by April 30th - a mere nine days away - in order to keep the doors open.
The plea comes in the wake of news that the McKnight Foundation asked for the return of $300,000 it gave the Southern to fund a dance grants program after concerns were raised about mismanagement.
Here's what the e-mail had to say:
Dear Friends and Patrons,
We come to you with heavy hearts, filled with hope. The financial difficulties that have beset the Southern Theater for the past few years have reached a state of emergency. That emergency now threatens the very existence of the Southern and we must raise $400,000 by April 30, 2011 to keep the doors open.
The $400,000 we seek will help bring The Southern out of the financial mire in which it has been sinking for the past decade. It will give the new board of directors, collaborating with staff, the time needed to put a sustainable operating model in place. This operating model will include funding for a development position, a position sorely lacking in the last few years.
Beyond an immediate resuscitation of this historic establishment, this new operating model will allow The Southern to continue the exciting trajectory it has begun in the past several months:
- Innovative programming that brings an astounding array of artists to the stage, garnering local and national acclaim for the Theater;
- An award-winning, state-of-the-art green design for revitalizing the building that has been embraced as a paradigm of economic and ecological sustainability; and
- The Theater serving as an anchor for the renaissance of the Washington Ave corridor, linking Downtown Minneapolis and Seven Corners/University of Minnesota.
If you love the arts and the quality of life we've come to enjoy here--and others come here to enjoy--in Minnesota and specifically in the Twin Cities, you know how important it is to have an institution like The Southern. In fact, the incredibly fine arts community in the Twin Cities is due in large part to organizations such as The Southern, for it serves as a feeder of new and emerging talent for organizations nationwide.
Please, we need your financial support.
If you enjoy the dance, music and theater The Southern presents, please give now.
If you appreciate the importance of the arts to the well-being of the Twin Cities, please give now.
If you believe in investing in the sustainability of a theater that has been a landmark in the Twin Cities for over a century, please give now and please encourage others to do the same.
Please, we need you to be part of the legacy in keeping this 100 year old Theater and its contribution to the arts community thriving. Every donation, no matter what size, will make a difference.
Anne F. Baker, Chair, Board of Directors
Brian Sostek, Director, Board of Directors
Gary Peterson, Executive Director
So, what do you think? Should the Southern be rescued from its financial meltdown? Or should its mismanagement of funds be cause enough for the institution to close?
The MIA has announced it's cutting ten staff members as part of its plan to keep the budget balanced in the coming years. Here's the museum's official statement:
Minneapolis, MN, April 20, 2011--The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) announced that it is reducing expenses for the coming year by more than $1 million, through a combination of strategic cuts to departments and the elimination of 7 full-time and 3 part-time positions. The museum's goal is to ensure a balanced budget as it anticipates both increased costs for museum operations and reduced revenue for FY2012 and 2013. Through these proactive reductions, the MIA will be able to sustain its strong schedule of exhibitions and public programs.
"The museum is fortunate to have a highly capable staff, which makes any decision regarding jobs a difficult one," said Kaywin Feldman, Director and President of the MIA. "However, in order to maintain our high level of public service, through exhibitions, collections, educational and community initiatives, and to continue to offer free admission, it is important that the museum plan for the future and maintain a balanced budget."
The dip in revenue for FY2012 is in large part due to the way in which the museum calculates the income from its endowment, based on a three year rolling average. While the actual value of its investments is rebounding along with the financial markets, the endowment income for FY2012 will reflect the lowest average value since the crisis hit in 2007--2008. In addition, the MIA expects contributed revenue, from both public and private sources, to remain stable but not to increase enough to offset other declines.
According to an article by the Star Tribune's Mary Abbe, "seven full-time and three part-time posts were eliminated from a staff of 252" including associate curator of paintings Sue Canterbury and membership director Ann Benrud.
This is the largest staff/budget cut at the MIA since 2009. You can read about those cuts here.
The president of Minneapolis College of Art and Design Jay Coogan has proved you can grow money by growing facial hair.
The fundraisers at MCAD convinced Coogan he should grow a "creepy, early-1970s mustache" if the staff and faculty raised an additional $1,000 for student scholarships. The gimmick gave an extra incentive for people to donate now to what is a perennial campaign.
According to MCAD's P-R man Rob Davis, the 'stache did the trick:
In one week we have received gifts from 86 faculty and staff totaling more than $2,600! Nearly three-fourths of the gifts came from people who had never previously given, or hadn't given this year. Jay is already looking very scruffy, and next Friday, we'll get to see the mustache.
"I just thought a mustache would be funny." said Kate Mohn, executive assistant to Jay Coogan and the one responsible for the idea. She created the "'Stache" promotional image seen above.
Davis says MCAD is still (of course) accepting donations to the student scholarship fund - any gifts received through next Friday will be counted as "'stache inspired."
Sheila Smith, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, is heading to the White House. Smith, along with Minnesota State Arts Board Director Sue Gens, have been invited to take part in an arts briefing there on Tuesday afternoon.
Their trip is part of National Arts Advocacy Day, an event which actually takes up two days.
Smith says as part of the trip, Minnesota advocates will be talking with their members of Congress.
We know there is a big budget fight going on in DC and arts funding is a very small part of the big picture, but the arts are vitally important to our economy and huge employers, so we will be talking jobs. Some of our members of congress are important committees with jurisdiction over various arts things (For example, Betty McCollum of St Paul is high ranking minority member on Interior which funds the NEA) so when we meet with them we will be focusing on whatever committee they are on.
Smith says this is the first time in her memory that there's been a "White House Arts Briefing." Smith, who's been the MCA's Executive Director since 1996, says the last time I was at the White House was the day after Jesse Ventura was elected Governor:
It was for the presentation of the President's Arts & Humanities medals. Pres. Clinton made fun of Minnesota electing a pro-wrestler and I was very embarassed.
We'll check in with Smith when she gets back to find out just what gets discussed.
More than 50 Twin Cities musicians are lining up to raise money for the American Red Cross, in an effort to help out those suffering in Japan from what feels like an unending disaster (earthquake, followed by tsunami, followed by radiation leaks). Tonight and tomorrow night, from 5pm - midnight, folks like Martin Devaney, Dan Newton, Curtiss A, Larry Long and Arne Fogel will play 20 minutes sets back to back at Rudolph's BBQ in south Minneapolis. The musicians are playing for free; a $10 donation per person is suggested. All net proceeds will go to the American Red Cross.
The line-up so far looks like this:
Monday, March 28
Hosted by KFAI's Jackson Buck
5pm Steve Sklar and Johnna Morrow
5:20 Lonnie Knight
5:40 Mike McMahon
6pm Martin Devaney
6:20 Dave Babb of the Liquor Pigs
6:40 Steve Kaul and Mikkel Beckmen of the Brass Kings
7pm Paul Mayasich
7:20 Dan Newton
7:40 Bernie King
8pm Tom Feldman of the Get-Rites
8:20 Robert Wilkinson of the Flamin' Oh's
8:40 Good Batson/Bad Batson (Bill and Ernie Batson of the Hypstrz)
9pm Curtiss A
9:25 Cats Under the Stars
10pm Willie Grey and the Gossamers (Nate Westgor's band-Willie's Guitars)
10:20 Jeff Ray
10:45 Sneaky Pete Bauer
11:10 Nikki and the Ruemates
11:40 Michael McElrath
OPEN MIC FOLLOWS
Hosted by Paul Metsa
5pm Nicholas Mrozinski and the Feelin' Band
5:20 Bobby Vandell Duo
5:40 Tony Ortiz w/ Mary Rancone
6pm Terry Walsh
6:20 Barry Goldberg
6:40 Geno LaFond
7pm Mick Sterling
7:20 3 Amigos
7:40 Paul Metsa-Sonny Earl-Mari Harris
8pm Mary Cutrufello
8:20 Tom Lieberman
8:40 Arne Fogel
9pm Kevin Bowe
9:20 Mary Jane Alm
9;40 Larry Long
10pm J.D. Steele
10:20 Sherwin Linton
10:40 Robby Vee
11pm Paul Metsa and friends
11:30 Chris Mulkey
A special edition of the show creates a collage of art and people caught on film over the program's two-year history.
(note: I'm guessing it's not a coincidence this show was aired just as we're discussing how to balance the state budget at the Capitol)
The Gallery Vault, in St. Cloud
Most stories you hear these days regarding tuition involves students picketing and protesting to either lower or freeze the costs of their tuition. Well not so at St. Cloud State University.
In fact, a group of art students have submitted a petition asking their university to increase tuition... by $2.40.
Why? To save a student-run gallery in downtown St. Cloud. Last year three students - Sara Larson, Blake Weld and Chalyn Day - applied and received a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board to open up the space, called the "Gallery Vault." The grant funded the operation from September 2010 - January 2011, with program-based tuition (from the student exhibition budget) funding its operation through May 2011.
Now the students want an increase in their program-based tuition to keep it open. Chalyn Day says the off campus space allows students to interact with the community, as well as local youth and other artists.
Continuing to keep the gallery open gives students first hand experience with how a gallery is run and operated. Students take there own initiative outside of class to make this space available to the public; this allows students to develop independence as artists and prepare them for a motivated career. Interaction with the community allows students to converse with patrons of the arts and prepares them for future relationships. We feel the experience and knowledge acquired by students greatly outweighs the monetary cost.
The cost of running the gallery amounts to $14,000, between rent and utilities. The $2.40 increase, multiplied by 5,000 students, would cover $12,000, with the remainder coming from the already established student exhibition budget.
According to David Sebberson, the Chair of SCSU's Art Department, the university's budget advisory committee is currently scheduled to hear the proposal to increase tuition $2.40 on April 7.
The SCSU Student Government will hear and vote to endorse or not endorse all tuition and fee increases. This will happen before or during the first week of May. The Student Government has a history of endorsing increases if the students affected by the increase support it.
Sebberson says the MnSCU Board of Trustees must approve all tuition rates, an action which normally takes place during the summer. Historically, he says, the Board has supported proposals for program-based tuition, since they cover program-specific costs that normal tuition wouldn't reasonably be expected to cover.
Two of the creative minds behind the Minneapolis company Theatre de la Jeune Lune (which closed in 2008) have united to form a new creative team under a new name.
Dominique Serrand and Steve Epp, who have collaborated on occasion since Jeune Lune's closing, have announced the creation of "The Moving Company."
Their first scheduled production is of a work called "Come Hell And High Water" which is set to run in May at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis.
An invitation went out today for a fundraising event for the new company at Franklin Art Works on Tuesday April 5.
MPR Photo/Steve Mullis
Sitting in the Great Hall on the ground floor of the Capitol building, Sheila Smith scans her iPad. "I'm monitoring the Twitter-verse," she says. It's noon, but Smith, the president of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, has already had a full day greeting, training and shuttling Minnesotans to the State Capitol for the annual "Arts Advocacy Day."
Smith says on any given day, four or five different causes are advocating before their Senators and Representatives; the arts tends to be one of the top three groups in terms of size, and one of the largest arts advocacy days in the country. This year, she estimates 700 people made the trip, many from places like Marshall and Fergus Falls. If she's right, that makes this one of the best attended arts advocacy days since the event began, second only to the year Paul Wellstone's plane crashed - a tumultous political year.
Smith says Arts Advocacy Day gets its start early in the morning, specifically so those travelling from hours away can get on the road and head home (many come to town the night before). So by the time I wandered into the Great Hall several teams had already finished visiting their Senators and Representatives, stressing the two key points of this year's event. Namely:
1. Advocates urged legislators to please maintain the distribution of fifty percent of the Legacy Amendment's arts funding to the State Arts Board and the Regional Arts Councils. They requested specifically that legislators not earmark any of that money for the construction of buildings. "The State Arts Board funds 2,000 grants in 87 counties," says Sheila Smith. "If you fund a building, you've taken a statewide funding source and given it to just a few people." Instead advocates encouraged the Legacy Amendment be used for funding arts activities.
2. Advocates expressed their understanding that this is a difficult budget year, and asked that the Minnesota State Arts Board take no greater a cut than other beneficiaries of the general fund.
I asked Smith what argument she has for preserving arts funding, when other causes involving poverty or health care are also on the table. Her response:
"The scale for us is so tiny - we're a rounding error in the Health and Human Services budget. Arts funding makes up 0.0009% of the state budget. No matter what you do to arts funding you will not solve the budget problem. In fact, you're not even starting the conversation."
Smith counters that while arts funding may be tiny compared to other areas, that small funding has an enormous impact, which is the story advocates were sharing with their legislators today.
Advocates gather in the Great Hall of the capitol building after meeting with their representatives.
Greta Murray is the Executive Director of the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council, and made the drive in from Marshall for today's event. She met with a half- dozen or so legislators and talked about arts projects in their districts that are funded by the State Arts Board. This is something she's been doing for 14 years, and this year she's a little concerned.
"Everybody we talked to today supports the arts, but that doesn't mean they'll promise to protect our funding," she said. "It's frustrating, because it's obvious the state is in huge trouble, but the arts are so important, and such a small piece of the funding puzzle."
Cheri Buzzeo of Willmar Community Theatre (a.k.a. "The Barn Theatre") says she was warmly received by her political representatives, who seemed well-versed in how their constituents were benefitting from arts funding. She's more worried about a last minute panic-attack on the part of local politicians, should the hit they take from federal funding be worse than anticipated.
"I think we've done a good job today in talking about the arts, and how they bridge the gap between many different sectors. I like to think the arts are non-partisan," said Buzzeo. She says she's particularly proud of how well the State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils have worked together to spread the funding out between both the metro area and the rest of Minnesota; she says she doesn't sense any competition between the two geographic areas,
So will the hundreds of people who journeyed to the Capitol today make a difference for the future of arts funding? Sheila Smith likes to think so.
"The world belongs to to the people that show up," Smith quips. "If a legislator gets ten letters on a particular issue, they pay attention, because it inspired people to take action. Today 700 people showed up to support arts funding. That should get their attention."
You can find out more about Arts Advocacy Day at the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts website.
According to an Associated Press report, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will wear blue wristbands during performances this weekend to show their support for their striking colleagues in Detroit. The members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra walked off the job on October 4; five months later there is still no sign of resolution to contract negotiations.
Other orchestras participating in this weekend's show of solidarity include the Colorado Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.
The Highpoint Center for Printmaking announced it has completed its $3.5 million capital campaign to pay for its new building on Lake Street in Minneapolis.
The HP2 campaign as it was know was launched in May 2008, with the new building renovated and opening celebrated by October 2009.
The actual fund-raising was completed in late December, but Highpoint directors Carla Magrath and Cole Rogers (shown left with an early model for the Center) released the news today.
The new facility, planned by James Dayton Design is triple the size of the Center's former home, and features much improved facilities including space for Highpoints artist cooperative, a studio for visiting artists to work with a Master Printer galleries, and a dedicated classroom for younger students.
Even though the new Center has only been doing classes since June 2009, it has already served over 10,000 people. Now with the campaign complete the Highpoint leaders promise continuation of its community focus, while having the ability and focus to "move in new directions."
This morning Euan Kerr had a fine report looking at the Legacy Amendment's first year. While the new funding has been a boon to many rural communities, it has also been a let-down for border communities like Fargo-Moorhead, where their dual-state status has disqualified them receiving the funds. Click here to read the story, or listen to it using the audio link below.
It's been a bad week for the Smithsonian.
Last Tuesday the museum pulled a video by artist David Wojnarowicz from its exhibition "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture," after taking heat for the video's controversial subject matter (the video depicts a christ figure on the cross, covered with ants). Critics of the video claimed they felt it was anti-Christian.
Since the video was removed, many in the art world have protested the Smithsonian's actions, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art's own Kaywin Feldman, who heads the Association of Art Museum Directors. The AAMD released the following statement on the incident:
It is extremely regrettable that the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery, a major American art museum with a long history of public service in the arts, has been pressured into removing a work of art from its exhibition "Hide/Seek."
More disturbing than the Smithsonian's decision to remove this work of art is the cause: unwarranted and uninformed censorship from politicians and other public figures, many of whom, by their own admission, have seen neither the exhibition as a whole or this specific work.
The AAMD believes that freedom of expression is essential to the health and welfare of our communities and our nation. In this case, that takes the form of the rights and opportunities of art museums to present works of art that express different points of view.
Discouraging the exchange of ideas undermines the principles of freedom of expression, plurality and tolerance on which our nation was founded. This includes the forcible withdrawal of a work of art from within an exhibition--and the threatening of an institution's funding sources.
The Smithsonian Institution is one of the nation's largest organizations dedicated to the dissemination and diffusion of knowledge--an essential element of democracy in America. We urge members of Congress and the public to continue to sustain and support the Smithsonian's activities, without the political pressure that curtails freedom of speech.
Other protests have included a man standing in front of the exhibition, playing the video clip on his iPod. Here's the controversial video in its entirety - easily found on YouTube:(3 Comments)
Posted at 2:26 PM on December 3, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
In light of recent elections, and the upcoming session to deal with the state's $6.2 billion deficit, I wondered how all of this could impact the arts. To get some context, I asked Sheila Smith with Minnesota Citizens for the Arts for her thoughts. Here's what she had to say:
1. How do you think the recent shift in power at the state capitol will effect funding for the arts?
There are a lot of changes at the Capitol this year, with the GOP taking over both the House and Senate, and although the recount is still ongoing, it looks like DFL'r Mark Dayton will probably take over the Governor's office. We've had divided government for the past many years, and with these changes we will still have divided government. However, it's still too early to know how these changes will affect the arts.
The bigger issue is that the state has a gruesome $5-6 billion deficit (the exact number will be known this afternoon) which will be the driving issue throughout the next session. How the new leadership on both sides deals with this issue will affect everything the state does, with the arts being just one of the many issues affected.
We're still not sure which committee will oversee arts funding, we'll hopefully know in a few weeks, so it will be easier to assess then the environment we'll be in.
The arts have always been a non-partisan issue, and we have friends on both sides of the aisle. Many of those friends remain at the Capitol. It will be up to the arts community to continue to communicate with their elected officials about the importance of the arts and about the voter's intention in passing the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.
2. Keeping the $6 billion dollar deficit in mind, how do you plan to argue for continued support of the arts (especially now that the Legacy Amendment provides a dedicated source of funding)?
The arts are a proven economic development tool that provide over 30,000 jobs in Minnesota. With the chief concern of all policy makers being job growth and economic impact, we can make a very strong case that the arts need to be a part of the picture that helps solve Minnesota's economic problems. Minnesota's arts community is a strong beacon that draws visitors to Minnesota's restaurants and hotels. We are part of the picture of Minnesota's future economic vitality.
3. Why is it that the arts tends to be viewed as "optional" when it comes to funding?
In 2008, 56% of Minnesotans voted to put the arts into our state's constitution. Minnesotans do not view the arts as optional.
So what do you think of the current political climate, the deficit, and how it may or may not affect funding for the arts? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Posted at 3:09 PM on November 24, 2010
by Euan Kerr
Filed under: Funding
The Bush Foundation which has long been a funding source for Minnesota's arts community (including Minnesota Public Radio) announced today it's ending its popular Artist Fellows program.
In emails sent to current fellows and grantees Bush Vice-President Pam Wheelock announced the creation of what will now be the Bush Fellowship Program.
The Bush Fellowship Program is informed by and replaces all fellowship programs that came before it, including the Bush Artist Fellowship and the Enduring Vision Awards.
We've made this change to our fellowship programs because we believe that economic, social and demographic forces across the three states are challenging people to develop creative and innovative solutions. The Bush Fellowship Program can be instrumental in building an individual's capacity and confidence to advance needed community change in partnership with others to solve these tough problems. Our history with the fellowship programs provides ample evidence that the commitment and courage to lead others in seeking solutions to our tough problems rests in individuals in every part of our community. We need "all hands on deck" every social entrepreneur, business owner, artist, public sector employee, community volunteer, and the like to embrace the opportunity to learn and grow so others in our communities can have the hoped for future. This Fellowship Program offers the support needed to achieve that shared vision.
The foundation will begin taking applications for the new Fellowships in December.
According to the Foundation website since 1965 its Fellowship Programs "have supported more than 2,200 accomplished artists, physicians and leaders in deepening their skills and pursuing training for greater leadership."
The change does not come as a huge surprise. Bush ended its medical fellowships last year, and announced a refining period for the fellowship programs beginning in July.
The Foundation's Director of Engagement and Communication Scott Cooper told me this afternoon he expects about 35 people to be accepted for the first intake of fellows under the new program next year. They will receive $50,000 to $75,000 depending on the fellowship, each which will be specifically designed. He also expects they will come from all walks of life, including artists.
"Our goal is to help expand the capacity of communities to address the challenges they are facing and we are trying to figure out the best way to do that. And we had had several different fellowship programs grow up for specific audiences and it seemed that was no longer necessarily the right way to go."
Posted at 2:05 PM on November 18, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
GiveMN has released the final numbers for Tuesday's fundraising event "Give to the Max" day.
According to a release, 42,596 donors participated in the event, and Minnesota non-profits received a total of $10,041,021 in donations, matching grants and prize money.
Here's how the figure breaks down:
$8,026,820 donated by donors
$1,911,201 matching grants (from various sources)
$84,000 prizes from GiveMN
$19,000 prizes from Razoo (the company that hosts GiveMN's website)
Worth mentioning. it turns out the dollar amount of matching grants (listed as over $4 million) available for Give to the Max Day was a little misleading.
For instance, I wrote in an earlier post that Sample Night Live had a $10,000 matching grant, but had only received $460 in pledges that took advantage of that grant.
I've since heard from Sample Night Live's Barbe Marshall, who explained that her matching grant is in fact independent of Give to the Max Day.
SNL got the money from the Saint Paul Foundation to help inspire giving over a period of several weeks. She says to date SNL has received $8,000 in pledges not given through GiveMN, and so those pledges didn't show up on the website tally.
In addition, the remaining $1500 of SNL's matching grant (provided by the Saint Paul Foundation) is available through December 31.
Posted at 4:06 PM on November 17, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
It's interesting to see what tops people's lists when it comes to charitable giving. Give to the Max Day offers us an opportunity to take a look.
Obviously, Minnesotans love their animals: in the Twin Cities, the Animal Humane Society placed second in terms of number of donations, with 1918. In greater Minnesota, the top ten list was populated with organizations who care for bears, wildcats and wolves.
Arts and cultural organizations placed further down the list, but a few still made very strong showings. Among them:
The Cedar Cultural Center, which brings musical acts from all over the world to the Twin Cities; it received 671 donations totalling $18,133.
Springboard for the Arts also did quite well, garnishing 383 donations totalling $22,469. It even inspired them to perform for their donors:
The Guthrie Theater earned $70,660 from 351 donors, while Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre earned $12,095 from 162 donors. Penumbra Theater received 127 donations totalling $11,338.
Bedlam Theater, Jungle Theater, the Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul City Ballet, Cantus and The Rose Ensemble all placed in the top 100 of Twin Cities non-profits.
In greater Minnesota, the North House Folk School of Grand Marais was the top arts earner, accumulating $13,805 from 117 donors. The Great River Shakespeare Festival, Fergus Falls Center for the Arts, Northfield Arts Guild, Reif Center, Red Wing Art Association, and Rochester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale all placed in the top 100.
As I write this, the GiveMN ticker has reset itself to 24 hours and started counting down once again. Give to the Max Day is officially over, and while the numbers are likely to setttle out a little in the coming hours, here's what the current totals are on the website:
Money raised for MN non-profits: $7,998,434
Number of donors who contributed: 42,624
In addition to the near $8 million raised in contributions over the past 24 hours, an additional $1.8 million was tapped in matching grants.
That brings the total dollar amount raised to more than $9.8 million.
The top earners were Second Harvest Heartland, St. Olaf College, Concordia College and the Animal Humane Society
Approximately $2.2 million in matching grants was not taken advantage of; for example the program Sample Night Live had a matching grant of $10,000 set up, but only $460 of it was put to use.
Given the state of the economy, to have raised just under $10 million for Minnesota non-profits in one day is quite an accomplishment. While it falls about $4.5 million short of last year's performance, it is still an outstanding show of generosity and philanthropy.
A quick reminder of how the numbers played out last year:
Dollar amount raised in contributions: $14 million
Number of donors: 38,000
Amount of matching grant (provided by GiveMN):$500,000
Posted at 10:30 PM on November 16, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
As Give to the Max Day nears its close, more than 40,000 donors have made contributions to Minnesota non-profits; that surpasses GiveMN's goal,and exceeds last year's donors by more than two thousand people.
With just over 90 minutes remaining, more than $7.5 million has been raised. That does not include the matching grant money set aside for today's event. Of the more than $4 million dollars set aside for matching grants, as of this writing $2.28 million has yet to be claimed.
While GiveMN has not set any dollar fundraising goals for today's "Give to the Max" event, it is seeking to break its previous record in terms of number of donors. Last year it heard from approximately 38,000 people - this year it's challenged the public to surpass 40,000 donors.
As of 4:30pm Central, it's heard from approximatley 27,500.
In order to meet the goal, GiveMN will need to hear from 1666 people an hour for the next seven and a half hours (here at MPR we're really familar with that kind of math).
As with any fundraising event, alot depends on how many people have saved making their contributions for the end of the day, and how much giving will slack off in the waning hours before midnight.
So, have you made your pledge yet? Are you going to? Why or why not?(2 Comments)
As we approach the halfway point in "Give to the Max" day, I thought I'd take a look at the numbers:
As I write this, more than 15,000 people have made contributions totalling $2.8 million, and those numbers are climbing steadily. That doesn't include the matching grants various organizations raised for this event.
There is approximately $4 million in matching grants available.
Still this does not match the pace of last year's event, which raised $5.5 million in the first six hours.
So far the top donation-getters in the Twin Cities are Second Harvest Heartland and the Animal Humane Society - they were also two of the strongest participants in last year's Give to the Max day. Other top metro area earners include Planned Parenthood, Interfaith Outreach and MinnPost.com.
In Greater MN, the top recipient in terms of number of donations is the North American Bear Center, with 459 donations. However the center is followed by several educational institutions with fewer donations, but in larger amounts. Concordia, St. Olaf, St. Benedict and Divine Mercy Catholic School are all showing strongly.(2 Comments)
Audience members fill the amphitheater at the new Trollwood Performing Arts School facility for the opening performance of "The Wiz."
Photo credit: David Samson / The Forum
Trollwood Performing Arts School has decided that in order to increase its revenue, it needs to do more than teach.
For years, Trollwood Performing Arts School has run a summer program that taught hundreds of kids how to dance, act, write plays, build sets and more. In 2009 the school moved to a new, sprawling campus on the high side of the Red River in south Moorhead (its old home was regularly flooded).
While the TPAS had an ambitious vision for the new school (featuring a dozen or so buildings), it was only able to raise the funds for a fraction of the project. However it was able to construct a state-of-the-art outdoor amphitheater that seats well over 2000 people. Each summer the performing arts program culminates in a large outdoor stage production.
This last summer, when Garrison Keillor brought "A Prairie Home Companion" to Fargo-Moorhead, he chose the outdoor amphitheater to present the radio show. Despite bad weather and traffic, the audience was packed. Then Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater came to teach and perform, with similar success. Trollwood leaders realized their venue had the potential to generate more money for the school, and help it complete its original vision for the campus.
Now, the school is going to be part of a larger organization, named Bluestem Center for the Arts, that will program the amphitheater with all sorts of events for the general public. It's considering not just concerts, but corporate retreats, as well as summer and winter festivals that involve the entire community.
Steve Wurzer is the president of Future Builders, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises funds to support Trollwood Performing Arts School and now community arts programming at Bluestem. He says the name Bluestem is associated with native prairie grasses found in the area.
"The name has many qualities that we like. It is geographically relevant and we believe it reflects the character of the site and what we offer," added Wurzer.
You can find out more information about the name change and programming expansion here.
Posted at 1:05 PM on November 15, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
Starting at midnight tonight, Minnesota non-profits are urging you to be very, very generous.
One year after its premiere launch, "Give to the Max" day is back, hosted by the website GiveMN.org.
Here are the facts you need to know:
Last year GiveMN inspired 38,000 Minnesotans to give more than $14 million to 3,434 Minnesota nonprofits in just 24 hours.
This year GiveMN is asking Minnesotans to set a new record, but is only focusing on the number of people giving. This year's goal is to increase the number of contributors to 40,000.
Last year GiveMN said it would "match" contributions made in the 24-hour period; many people thought that meant a dollar-for-dollar match. It ended up being only cents on the dollar.
This year GiveMN has instead encouraged non-profits to seek out their own matching grants. Currently the site states $3,477,798 has been raised by various non-profits for the purpose of matching donations.
In addition, throughout the event, GiveMN will randomly choose an individual donor every hour, and give an additional $1,000 to the charity that received the donor's original donation.
Last year, your entire donation went to your non-profit of choice.
This year, donations will be charged a 2.9% processing fee.
Last year, the fundraising event was from 8am Nov 17 to 8am Nov 18.
This year the event begins at 12:01AM November 16 and runs until midnight.
While some non-profits have embraced GiveMN wholeheartedly as their main channel for fundraising, others may have other end-of-year plans. Best practice is to check with your favorite non-profits to make sure this is how they want you to donate, otherwise you may miss out on a matching grant they have set up for another time.
End of Nowhere, Tynan Kerr and Andrew Mazorol, 2010
various paints on canvas, 66"x54"
Shows presenting the work of a group of artists who all received the same fellowship can often feel a bit awkward. The only thing bringing them together is money.
Not so in the case of the MCAD/Jerome Fellowship exhibition, which closes Sunday.
MCAD/Jerome Fellowship Program Director Kerry Morgan says the emerging artists who were picked for this past year's fellowship have influenced one another:
They have literally been in "fellowship" with one another, and that's why they were so adamant about mixing their work throughout the gallery, rather than each taking their own section of the room.
Bag, 2010, by Steven Accola
acrylic on canvas panel, 20" x 16"
Morgan says something else these artists share is a desire to stretch themselves and their art in new ways.
This show features four painters not satisfied with the traditional practice of painting. I think that as paintings, none of them are content to just be paintings. They want to be objects; there's a physicality about it. We're so inundated with images these days, it's almost as if being two-dimensional isn't enough anymore.
Indeed, just as the stars of musicals, overcome with emotion, burst into song, these artists have burst into new dimensions. Steven Accola gives you the chair from his studio on which to browse through a book, and one of his paintings still rests on his easel, as though you're just stopping by for a visit. Tynan Kerr and Andrew Mazorol, who paint collaboratively on the same canvases, make an offering of painted twigs in the middle of the gallery floor.
Caroline Kent, whose work is heavily influenced by a recent trip to Iceland, found that to capture the immensity of the mountainous landscape, she had to leap off the wall.
Cathedral in the Heights, 2010 by Caroline Kent
plaster, wood and colored lights, 72" x 31" x 52"
Morgan says what she finds most exciting about the work of this group of fellows is how their work is simultaneously accessible and elusive.
They suck you in with the allure of a storyline, but you never get it. There's something that draws you in and makes you ask 'is thjs representational or abstract?' They're evocative, and spark your imagination - they're demanding of the viewer - it's not like candy that gives you immediate pleasure - you have to work for it.
Kids, 2010 by Tony Sunder
color video with sound
The pieces involving the most work are likely those by Tony Sunder, which at first glance least resemble paintings. Sunder's varies dramatically across the room, from a video of kids gleefully racing bikes to a couple of smears of paint on a piece of notebook paper glued to the wall. Sunder says he's playing with people's expectations of art:
People are smart enough to know what art is, but of course then they have these wild expectations. They expect literally a "show." I undercut myself all the time, because I don't want people to look for me as an authority. I want the viewer to sort of have to make up his/her mind without me.
In his artist statement Sunder wrote "Its not that I believe art does not have power, I just believe that art's power is only there when there is no language for it."
The 2009-2010 MCAD/Jerome Fellowship Exhibition runs through Sunday on the MCAD campus in Minneapolis.
Whether or not we're still in a recession, we could all use a few more dollars in our pocketbook. To that end, I asked my Facebook friends in the arts community to offer their tips on getting out to see shows for cheap, or even better, for free. Here's a distillation of what they had to say:
1. Know what you want: If you have pretty specific tastes in theater or music, it's worthwhile getting to know the companies or venues behind them. That means getting on their mailing lists, "liking" their Facebook page (Cantus offers "flash sales" on their FB page 24 hours before concerts), subscribing to their Twitter feeds, or even calling them up. Ask them if they have special offers, or will trade comp tickets for volunteer time. While not all venues are big enough to warrant ushers, Amy Rummenie at Walking Shadow Theater Company advises they still might welcome help painting a set, or value a particular skill you have to offer. And remember, if you know you like the work of a particular theater, dance company or orchestra, you can often get deep discounts by buying a season package.
2. Keep your ear to the ground: Veteran "fringer" Scott Pakudaitis recommends checking out discount ticket sites like goldstar.com. In addition he says to buy a Fringe button, which will get you a discount to many shows all year round. Then subscribe to the MN Fringe Festival mailing list, to find out which shows are playing this weekend.
3. Be flexible: Great cultural events happen on Tuesday nights, too, you know. Be prepared to go at the last minute (rush!), at an odd time (the Schubert Club offers free concerts at the Landmark Center over the lunch hour), or in an unusual location (you can pay to see a Ten Thousand Things Theater production at Open Book, or see it for free at a homeless shelter, and have a completely different audience experience - try it, you might like it!).
4. "FREE" doesn't mean "mediocre:" Poet and musician Anna George Meek reminds us the Minnesota Sinfonia gives free concerts, usually at the Basilica and Metropolitan State University. Your local library can get you a free "Museum Adventure Pass" for your family to all sorts of cultural institutions. Check your nearest parks to find out what sort of events they're hosting, which can often include free theater performances and music concerts. The Minneapolis Insititute of Arts is always free... so are gallery openings. The Walker Art Center is free on Thursday nights. And as actor/playwright Joseph Scrimshaw points out, many theaters offer a "pay what you can" night; if your favorite theater doesn't, think about giving them a call and telling them you'd really appreciate the option.
5. Finally, (how can I resist?) - become an MPR member! Membership at MPR gets you access to all sorts of discounts to cultural venues all over the state. Further proof that your membership pays back dividends above and beyond what you hear on-air and what you read on-line.
Posted at 1:29 PM on October 6, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
A colleague forwarded along this interesting article from BBC News which asks whether hard times inspire great art. The piece was inspired by the announcement that the UK's Department for Culture, Media and Sport is preparing for a departmental budget cut of 25% to 30%, leading Tate Director Nicholas Serota to call this the start of "the greatest crisis in the arts and heritage since government funding began in 1940."
But, writer Jon Kelly posits, doesn't hardship result in the best art?
A sluggish economy and harsh spending cuts might mean tough times are ahead for most of us, but the romantic narrative of the impoverished poet, musician or painter might lead us to expect that the cultural world could at least anticipate a period of creative fulfilment.
While numerous artists and analysts cast their votes for and against, I was most struck by the comment of Dr Tiffany Jenkins, a cultural sociologist and visiting fellow at the London School of Economics. Jenkins believes "public subsidy has done a great deal to stifle artists, having been often tied to agendas such as increasing community cohesion and forging the regeneration of deprived areas."
In other words, the money comes with strings attached, often reining in or forcing the direction of the art.
This is an idea I often hear debated in the Twin Cities, often by artists visiting from elsewhere. Minnesota foundations, government, private companies and individuals are all incredibly generous when it comes to giving to the arts, and the Minnesota arts scene is huge as a result. But is the art that's produced here as edgy or as challenging as it could be? Is the relative comfort of the local arts scene making us soft?
I welcome your thoughts.
A rendering of the proposed Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center Commons as viewed from the East entrance
The board of Macalester College has given the thumbs up to move on the first phase of a $39.8 million renovation and expansion of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center. The project is scheduled to begin in January 2011.
The fine arts center, built in 1965, houses the Music, Art, and Theatre & Dance Departments. The first phase of the project will renovate and expand the Music building, including the concert hall, add rehearsal space, and create an "Arts Commons" (see above photo) which will house new art history classrooms and a new art gallery.
The first phase is expected to take 18 months, reopening in fall 2012.
A view of the renovated Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center from outside the Shaw Field entrance
According to a release, the renovation and expansion project cost is $33.8 million. In conjunction with the arts improvements, the college will also complete a $6 million, 31,000 square foot renovation of the facilities department, located in the lower level of the building, bringing the total project cost to $39.8 million. The college has raised $16.5 million towards a $24 million fundraising goal focused solely on the arts building improvements. The college will bond for the remaining $15.8 million.
HGA of Minneapolis is the architect and McGough Construction of St. Paul is the contractor.
The second phase of the project is set to begin once the first phase is complete and remaining funds are raised. Phase Two will include the Art, and Theatre and Dance Department buildings.
Posted at 3:23 PM on October 5, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
A crate full of freshly picked art, from Springboard's "Community Supported Art" program
You may remember that back in April, Springboard for the Arts offered a bunch of "CSA shares" - CSA as in Community Supported Art.
I wouldn't blame you for not remembering - after all, they were sold out in just over a day.
This fall, the CSA program is back, offering twice as many shares and involving twice as many artists. Like the initial run, shares are $300 each and include 9 works of original art.
The shares have been on sale since September 27, and as of this afternoon, about 20 remained available. Interested? You can find out more info here.
Springboard for the Arts' Betsy Altheimer says this year's "crop" includes more artist collaborations and more performing arts in the mix. And she says news of the program is spreading; she says Springboard and its project partner mnartists.org are fielding inquiries from all over the country about to replicate/customize the program. Altheimer says in response they are developing a program model that should be up on their websites later this year.
Interested in seeing a show at a Minnesota theater, but worried it won't be worth the price of admission?
Well, now you have no excuses.
The only catch: you must be trying out a theater for the first time. So if you're in their database as having purchased tickets in the past, no deal.
Still, how many of us have actually been to fifty different theaters? There's sure to be something new for everyone.
While the majority of the theaters are - as you might expect - in the Twin Cities, there are also free performances to be found in Grand Rapids, Fergus Falls, Marshall, and Lanesboro.
Better act fast if you're interested - a quick check of the reservations site saw that many of the shows are already sold out... and reservations opened online only yesterday.
Just got off the phone with Minnesota Theater Alliance Program Director Leah Cooper, who added a few vital details.
1) The reason why so many shows have already been sold out is certain targeted groups were given a week to access tickets before the site was promoted to the general public. Those groups include people who are currently unemployed, recent college graduates and immigrants: i.e. people who probably don't have the means to attend theater regularly right now, but might be inclined to do so in the future if they had a positive experience (the goal of the project is to diversify theater audiences, after all).
2) Many theaters are staggering the release of their tickets to avoid what happened last year. What happened last year, you ask? Over 6,000 tickets were given away to Minnesotans in three hours, and the server to the website crashed. Whoops!
So in other words, keep checking the website throughout the month as more tickets become available.
Rebecca Belmore's "Fringe" is one of several contemporary works the MIA is adding to its permanent collection.
It's a great day for Liz Armstrong:
"I was hopeful, but this goes wildly beyond my dreams and my expectations."
Armstrong is referring to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts' decision to acquire 24 pieces featured in the recent "Until Now: Collecting the New" exhibition that Armstrong curated. As the museum's first Contemprary Art Curator, these acquisitions will seed what's to become a whole new division of the MIA's encyclopedic holdings (for more on the exhibition, click here).
The most recent 11 of those items were acquired this afternoon in an Accessions Committee Meeting held at the MIA; collectively they're valued at $690,500.
This new move to collect contemporary art is mirrored by new, younger faces on the museum's board. One of those bright young faces belongs to 30 year old Eric Dayton, son of gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton and grandson of longtime MIA trustee Bruce Dayton (Bruce Dayton made his fortune working for his family's department stores; he and his wife Ruth are largely responsible for the MIA's vast Chinese galleries).
I grew up coming here with my grandfather, so a lot of the relationship he and I share was time spent here at the museum. My grandfather started collecting with impressionist painting, then Chinese art and furniture. I've never felt pressure to follow in his particular footsteps, but he did give me two pieces of advice. First see a lot of art, and develop your own taste through seeing as much art as possible. Second, much better to buy an "A" work by a "B" artist than a "B" work by an "A" artist.
MIA Trustee Bruce Dayton with his grandson, MIA board member Eric Dayton. Eric Dayton recently gave the MIA a modern sculpture by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in his grandfather's honor. The photograph behind them, by Thomas Struth, was added to the MIA's permanent collection this afternoon.
Since joining the MIA board, Eric Dayton has revived "The Circle," a social opportunity for young art enthusiasts that involves attending exhibition openings, paying visits to artist studios, and even some hands-on art-making. He's also helped update the museum's annual antiques show into what promises to be a hipper, more modern "Design and Antiques Fair " (happening this weekend).
Dayton says to him the "Until Now" exhibition presented an incredible opportunity for the museum to take a hypothetical question (what might a contemporary art collection look like at the MIA?) and turn it into a reality. And he felt that opportunity was too good to pass up.
This is something that only the MIA can do - to present contemporary art in a historical context. We have this huge historic catalog of art from various cultures, and now to take advantage of that as a context for contemporary art is just really exciting.
Dayton says he particularly enjoys how the contemporary pieces have illuminated the historic works, and given younger people an access point to learn more.
As for Liz Armstrong, she says she's already planning new installations of contemporary art, and contacting artists to commission works for the MIA.
Twin Cities dancers are gathering to support one of their greatest allies.
Jeff Bartlett, longtime dance presenter,was focusing lights up in a Genie lift at Burnsville Performing Arts Center on August 19 when the lift fell over. He suffered multiple fractures in eight ribs, a broken shoulder blade, a broken arm, a collapsed lung and three fractured vertebrae. Doctors say he is very very lucky to be alive.
Tonight and tomorrow, nine different dance companies will perform at the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis in what is being billed as a celebration and fundraiser for Bartlett. A reception will follow Friday's performance, and the opportunity to give additional donations will be available in the lobby.
As the artistic director of the Southern Theater, Bartlett created a venue where local dance companies were welcome to perform. Frequently he also did the lighting design for their shows. In 2008 the board of the Southern Theater let Bartlett go after thirty years of service, for reasons that are still not publicly known. Since then, Bartlett has been working as a freelance lighting designer, and most recently, as Dance Community Liaison at the new Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts.
Bartlett was expected to attend the performances, but an infection forced him to return to Hennepin County Medical Center for further surgery. According to Ritz staff, they are working on setting up a skype connection between the hospital and the theater.
The companies that will be performing are:
Ballet of the Dolls
Ethnic Dance Theatre
Flying Foot Forum
Jawaahir Dance Company
Katha Dance Theatre
Shapiro & Smith Dance
One of the photographs in the University Avenue Project, taken by Wing Young Huie.
Since May, a six-mile stretch of University Avenue in Saint Paul has been transformed into an urban gallery. Empty car dealerships, libraries, a CVS pharmacy and Vietnamese restaurants have all lent their windows to the cause, displaying more than 400 black and white or color images of people and scenes from the neighborhood.
The University Avenue Project, created by photographer Wing Young Huie and presented Public Art St. Paul, continues for another two months, featuring evening projections of the photographs set to soundtracks created by local musicians.
Now, it's possible to take a piece of the exhibition home with you. In an attempt to balance the budget of the University Avenue Project before it closes on Halloween, Public Art St. Paul is offering images for sale.
People can peruse photographs this Sunday at the Macalester College Alumni House on Summit Avenue from 11am to 7pm. Wing Young Huie will be on hand to answer questions. It's also possible to order the photos online from the University Avenue Project website.
In addition, the project is taking on a life of its own beyond University Avenue. St. Catherine University will be hosting nightly projections of Huie's images September 9 - 30. Huie says he's thinking about hot to disseminate the University Avenue Project and others like it, possibly as mini-traveling exhibits that are affordable for K-12 schools and libraries, accompanied by educational curricula.
Bedlam Theatre's old home in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
MPR Photo/Chris Roberts
If you didn't catch it last night check out Chris Roberts' report on Bedlam Theatre's move. To where? That's not clear yet. In the short term, it turns out they're not relocating to the Seward Commons for the winter after all, but are instead moving their stuff - and offices - to the Ivey Arts Building in South Minneapolis.
Bedlam's move makes way for the relocation of a Cedar-Riverside mosque, something that has Bedlam supporters feeling torn. They want to respect the local community's religion, but they also feel the theater has done an amazing job of building community that transcends cultural and religious differences.
So where do you think Bedlam should make its permanent home?
Posted at 10:52 AM on September 1, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
Last November GiveMN inspired Minnesotans to give more than $14 million to 3,434 Minnesota nonprofits in just 24 hours.
Can they do it again?
GiveMN has announced it plans to try on November 16.
Here's the twist. Last year's event was marked by both a miscommunication and an underestimation of Minnesotans' generosity. GiveMN said it would "match" all donations made on Give to the Max day. Many people took that to mean "dollar for dollar" when in fact it ended up only being a few cents on the dollar. Would people have given so readily if they didn't think their money was going to be doubled?
This year, GiveMN is no longer promising to "match" donations, but it does list several "incentives" to help encourage giving. Here they are:
- A $20,000 and $10,000 prize grant will be awarded to the top two nonprofits in the Twin Cities and the top two nonprofits in Greater Minnesota that attract the largest number of individual donors on Give to the Max Day.
- Throughout the event, an individual donor will be randomly chosen every hour to have an additional $1,000 given to the charity that received the donor's original donation.
- Donors will have the opportunity to double their dollars for hundreds of featured nonprofits that have secured matching funds for Give to the Max Day.
So in other words, if a non-profit has managed to secure its own matching grant money, than your donation may be doubled.
New this year also is a 2.9% transaction fee.
A quick run of the numbers on my calculator shows that if Minnesotans give as generously as they did last year - $14 million - $406,000 will go towards transaction fees.
It's a hefty price tag when considered in total, but I'm sure most of the non-profits participating will say it's a worthwhile price to pay for the service the website is providing.
So, will you be participating in Give to the Max Day this year?
Rocco Landesman has lots of love for Lowertown.
"If I could put Lowertown in my briefcase and take it around the country, and be able to say 'Aha! See? Look that the arts presence, what a cluster of artists can do to transform a neighborhood, a community, a city.' Lowertown is exhibit A."
Landesman, a former Broadway producer who now chairs the National Endowment for the Arts took a whirlwind tour of St Paul today, meeting with the folks in Lowertown, before heading to SteppingStone Theater for a town hall meeting with some 300 members of the Minnesota arts community.
It's part of Landesman's ongoing national "Art Works" tour, a six month campaign to promote the importance of cultural activity to the economy, to job creation and for future innovation.
Landesman says as a Broadway theater guy he likes "Art Works" as a slogan because it's a triple entendre.
As a noun it covers pieces created by artists.
As a verb it means the way art 'works' on an individual in a profound and personal way.
The third way is about the work of the arts, the jobs and the economic muscle produced by people who work in creative pursuits.
He lauded Minnesotans for passing the Legacy Amendment which provides money to support arts and cultural activities. he says it's the only state in the nation which has "arts baked into its constitution," as he put it.
"Now we only need 49 others."
He says Minnesota has the three things necessary for a successful and beneficial arts community: creative artists, engaged audiences, and supportive corporations and foundations. He says as he's toured around he seen some communities with two of these three, but few with the full set.
Of course Landesman was preaching to the choir, but he did take the opportunity to warn the crowd arts funding should not be taken for granted. He talked about how the inclusion of arts funds in the Recovery Act was used as political weapon by opponents to claim the entire package was frivolous, even though it was just $50 million in a $787 billion budget.
Landesman quoted a member of Congress who said it was ridiculous to spend the $50 million on the arts when it could be spent on "real jobs like road-building."
He says it was then he realized just how tough his job would be.
Landesman says he wants to change that bias against the arts. It's his aim at the NEA to as he put it "be making the case wherever we can, in the public sector, with the Federal agencies, with Congress. also with the private sector, corporations, foundations, individuals, that the arts have a real role in this country's coming out of recession, in neighborhood revitalization, in economic development, in urban renewal, in the real world."
He says this is a very different narrative from simply saying individual arts organizations are in trouble and need help. He says that the arts do face challenges, so a new message has to be found.
Landesman was supported all the way by his host for the day, US Representative Betty McCollum. She sits on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, which has jurisdiction over the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She stressed how important arts jobs are to the economy, and the knock-on effect the loss of such jobs can have.
During the meeting Landesman took questions about the impact of budget cuts on arts programs in the schools, the lack of coverage of arts issues in mainstream media, and how cultural exchanges might aid international diplomacy.
After the meeting the mood seemed buoyant, with many people pleased that Landesman had come to speak,
"It brings a spotlight onto what's going on here," said Jack Becker, of Forecast Public Arts in St Paul. Becker acknowledges that NEA funds don't make a huge difference to individual artists, but the visit has great symbolic value.
"I see it as a good reason to get people fired up again and back to work!" Becker laughed.
The occasion was of such significance to SteppingStone's Artistic Director Richard Hitchler, that he came back early from a vacation on the Superior Hiking Trail.
"This is usually one of those types of things that would have ended up at a much larger institution, but I think with his message, the chairman's message, that really ties in to what we are doing here at SteppingStone."
Hitchler points out how the company provides jobs, theater classes, and community building.
"I, as the leader of this organization, am responsible to a number of employees to make sure they are paid, they are paid on time, and they are paid a living wage. I am also responsible to make sure that the kids that we serve are served well, and the only way I can do that is to count on the artists to be there and to be working with the youth."
Posted at 3:32 PM on August 16, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
Well, it was great while it lasted. And frankly, it's still pretty darn good.
What used to be a free transaction on GiveMN will soon have a 2.9% charge associated with it.
For the past nine months GiveMN's website has become a clearinghouse for Minnesota nonprofits, creating a central location for people to give to their favorite charity or arts organization. And for all this time, neither the organization nor the donor has been charged any sort of transaction fee; 100% of each contribution went straight to its intended recipient.
Starting October 1, that's going to change.
GiveMN's site is run by the server provider Razoo, and up until now its financial transactions have been handled by the organization Network for Good, which charges a 4.75% handling fee. The funders of GiveMN, a group of foundations, have been paying that fee so that the nonprofits could get the whole benefit of donors' generosity.
GiveMN announced back in April that its original budget couldn't cover the costs of the vast number of transactions it was soon supporting.
Since November 17, 2009, the site has transacted approximately 18 million dollars in donations, made by 50,000 people to 4,000 nonprofits. Almost 3,000 nonprofits now use the site regularly for their fundraising. Note: the vast majority of that giving - 14 million of it - was made on Give to the Max day last November.
Starting October 1, Network for Good will be replaced by U.S. Bank,
which is offering its services for a significantly lower 2.9% transaction fee. which will allow Razoo to offer its services for a significantly lower 2.9% transaction rate.
GiveMN Executive Director Dana Nelson says she's thrilled with the new arrangement.
Basically, they're donating their services to GiveMN and Razoo. A credit card transaction rate is made up by a bunch of different costs, so what they're doing is eliminating their part of that cost.
Nelson says 2.9% is one of the best rates, if not the best rate on the market.
In order to become fully sustainable, the organizations receiving donations via GiveMN will now get their donation, minus the 2.9% transaction fee. Nelson says while she would have loved to be able to continue to cover the fees forever, this is still a very good deal for small nonprofits looking to streamline online contributions.
At this time we're just so excited to be able to offer one of the best rates we can. The value of the service - no set up fees, great social media tools, fundraiser pages and project pages - all provided without any cost to the user... that's a lot to offer non-profits in MN.
Nelson says funders might step forward to cover transaction fees for particular fundraising projects or events, but she doesn't see GiveMN returning to a transaction-free model again in the future.
Last week the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts posted a video interviewing the DFL candidates for Minnesota Governor about how they have - and would, if elected - support the arts.
This week - just in time for today's primaries - the MCA is following up with a more thorough report on where 2010 political candidates and federally elected officials stand on the arts. Click on your district number to find out what your Senator or House Rep thinks should happen to the Legacy Fund, whether they would support policies to increase accountability for school standards in the arts, and what music they enjoy most.
Note, many candidates did not respond to the MCA survey. In those cases it's hard to know whether we should take that to mean they don't care about the arts, or there was perhaps a legitimate reason for them not finding the time.
Tonight at 7pm the Minneapolis Arts Commission will present its second annual MAC awards at the Uptown Art Fair.
Awardees in four categories will each recieve citations signed by the mayor, and the right to use the MAC logo on their press materials or website.
And that's it.
It wasn't always this way. Eight years ago the city of Minneapolis had its own Office of Cultural Affairs, and granted $30,000 a year to individual artists and small arts organizations. But in 2002 the city cut its Cultural Affairs division down to two people, and its funding for artists went away. Minneapolis Mosaic, a summer event celebrating the arts, is entirely funded through private sources.
Minneapolis Arts Commission member Tamara Nadel says it's a paradox:
Minneapolis has such a reputation as being a center for arts and culture, for the city not to fund these activities is a little bit embarrassing.
Minneapolis does have an arts budget of $365,000. But the largest portion of that goes to commissioning and maintaining public works of art displayed on city land. Compare Minneapolis to other cities its size around the country, and the difference in their financial commitment to the arts is startling.
Minneapolis - population 765,000; $365,000 spent on the arts in 2009
Nashville - population 619,000, $2.7 million spent on the arts in 2009
Wichita - population 433,000, $3.9 million spent on the arts in 2009
Now look at how much the cities below give out in grants to artists each year:
Seattle - $225,000
Kansas City - $500,000
Oakland - $1.4 million
Portland - $1.6 million
Minneapolis - $0
Minneapolis Arts Commission member Tamara Nadel says the MAC is working to change that. For the second year in a row the MAC is proposing the city fund a grant program for emerging artists.
How much is the commission asking for? Just $8,000.
Nadel says she knows adding grants to the city's budget is a hard sell in this economy, but she thinks it's a worthwhile investment.
I think we're very lucky to have the MN State Arts Board and the Regional Councils. People around the country are in awe of Minnesota for what we've done with the Legacy Fund, but what's missing is that giving at the local level. The more localized the funding, the more it connects artists and arts organizations to their communities. .
Nadel says she knows Mayor Rybak is a big supporter of the arts, and that he's well aware of how important the arts are to the economic development of the city. She's hopeful he'll take action on the grants soon.
The longer we wait, I think we run a real risk of losing artists who might move over to St. Paul because they feel more supported and valued there.
Nadel says things looked promising for the MAC proposal last year, but then the economy took another dip, and suddenly the city was looking at eliminating one of the two staff positions dedicated to arts and culture. So the commission stopped pushing its proposal in favor of lobbying to keep the staff position.
Tonight's Minneapolis Arts Commission awards are as follows:
The Award for Community Involvement in Public Art goes to Reynaldo Diaz and Connie Beckers for their project "Awakening," a stained glass window that celebrates the plants and animals of Loring Park. Located at the Loring Park Community Arts Center.
The Award for Celebrating the City through Public Art goes to artist Sean Smuda for his project "Hopes and Dreams," which is made up of 20 portraits depicting the city's diversity.
The Award for Integration of Public Art in Private Development goes to Joshua Sartantitis and Forecast Public Art for "Loring Water Lilies" on the Loring ramp, a mural inspired by Monet's paintings of water lilies.
This year the MAC added a fourth category, the Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts and the Community. That award goes to Ten Thousand Things Theater, a company which brings high quality theater to homeless shelters, prisons, rehab clinics and housing projects.(9 Comments)
Posted at 10:24 PM on August 3, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
Today the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts posted a video interviewing the three DFL candidates for governor (Matt Entenza, Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Mark Dayton) about the arts.
Some of the tidbits you might be interested to learn: while Mark Dayton loves Pachelbel's Canon and the Beatles, Margaret Anderson Kelliher has Johnny Cash and Sharon Jones on her ipod, and Matt Entenza kicks back to the sounds of Brother Ali and Atmosphere.
Musical tastes aside, each of the candidates list what they've done in the past to champion the arts, and talk about how they think the Arts and Culture Heritage fund should be distributed.
Independent candidate Tom Horner was also interviewed by the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, but rather than include him in the video, the MCA only offers a transcript. And neither Tom Emmer nor Rob Hahn make any appearance at all. According to the MCA's facebook page, neither candidate made themselves available to answer the questions.
It's a new, brighter day for Intermedia Arts.
A year and a half ago, the multidisciplinary arts center laid off all its staff and closed its gallery in what it called a "proactive" measure when it saw some funders might not be able to deliver promised support. It then re-hired its staff as contract employees. It kept its doors open by only hosting events that required paid admission. The cut-backs lasted several months, and while it might at first have appeared draconian, in retrospect appears to have been an insightful move.
Today Intermedia Arts announced it's the recipient of a two-year grant from the nationally recognized Kresge Foundation in the amount of $200,000. Intermedia Arts will receive $125,000 in the coming fiscal year and $75,000 in the following fiscal year.
Executive/Artistic Director Theresa Sweetland says at it's core, the Kresge grant is for general operating funds, so it's going to allow the organization to "keep on doing what we do." And she's thrilled about that.
In addition, Sweetland says Intermedia is going to invest further in a couple of its key programs. The "Catalyst" series presents work in all media by artists working for positive community change. And Intermedia's "Arts Hub" is a space for independent artists and small organizations who are looking to share space and resources in order to cut costs.
Sweetland says since the staff cuts in December of 2008, Intermedia has hired back its literary programs manager. She says the organization now has five full time staff and eight part-time staff. A number of people are still working as contract employees or have "moved on to other things."
Intermedia Arts, whose motto is "Art Changes Everything" has long been known in the Twin Cities for giving voice to diverse communities. From its Queer Voices reading series to its B-Girl Be celebration of women in hip-hop, to its youth media programs and First Nation performance series "Indigenous Voices," Intermedia gives people of all walks of life the opportunity to express themselves through art.
Updated at 12:50pm(1 Comments)
According to a release from the SPCO, the grant will "provide creative capital for artistic development, including projects such as major commissions, an annual composer in residence, and collaborations with artists and institutions outside the realm of classical music."
The grant also funds the hiring of artistic advisors and producers who will work to support the development of multi-media activities, humanities projects, and other new programming. To that end the SPCO has engaged Ara Guzelimian, Provost and Dean of The Juilliard School and former Senior Director and Artistic Advisor at Carnegie Hall, as Senior Advisor for this work.
In addition, the grant will fund the creation of a staff position responsible for producing digital content and funding mobile applications.
Yale Repertory Theater announced on Monday that it had received a $950,000 gift from the Robina Foundation, a Minnesota-based nonprofit group. The gift will go toward supporting the Yale Center for New Theater.
In a community where we often hear the names McKnight, Jerome and Bush bandied about when it comes to philanthropy and the arts, Robina may come as a relative unknown. And there's a reason for that. The foundation, created by James H. Binger, was set up to support just four institutions: Abbott Northwestern Hospital, The Council on Foreign Relations, University of Minnesota Law School, and Yale University.
However folks close to the funding world will readily recognize the Binger name. James H. Binger married Virginia McKnight, the daughter of William and Maude McKnight, of the McKnight Foundation. Several Binger family members currently serve on the McKnight Foundation board.
Aldo Moroni's "Fragilearth"
As I mentioned earlier today, it seems practically every arts outlet these days is hosting an exhibition or performance with the word "McKnight" somewhere in it.
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design partners with the McKnight Foundation to administer its visual arts fellowships, which is bestowed annually on mid-career artists living in Minnesota. The fellowship year culminates in a show at the MCAD gallery.
This year's show features the work of Aldo Moroni, Piotr Szyhalski, Michael Karaken and Carolyn Swiszcz. MCAD Director of Gallery and Exhibition Programs Kerry Morgan says each of the artists took the opportunity to push themselves in new directions:
Each of them created new work, and tried new methods. We provided the technical support, which in some cases was a real challenge. All of them have put so much thought into these works - so much labor and so many hours. I was amazed - each of them was incredibly focused.
Detail of Aldo Moroni's "Fragilearth"
For Aldo Moroni, the fellowship gave him the opportunity to "think big." His sculptural installation, "Fragilearth," stands at approximately 14 feet high, and dominates the front of the gallery. It references the large mountains found in traditional Chinese landscape painting (and in the MIA's "Jade Mountain"), while offering a visual metaphor for man's relative impotence compared to his natural environment.
Video cameras have been set up in the gallery so viewers can watch the sculpture as it changes over time. Moroni plans to work on the piece throughout the exhibition, reflecting the effects of time on the landscape.
Piotr Szyhalski's "Twins, Mirrors, Echoes: side A: Loyalty Dance"
Piotr Szyhalski's multimedia installation continues his exploration of history and propaganda. A series of records hanging on the wall are adorned with labels richly layered in meaning. In the above label, the numbers refer to the times when planes hit the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in 2001. Meanwhile on a table, planes fly in irregular patterns and occasionally crash, making lights flash above.
Szyhalski grew up in Poland. Curator Kerry Morgan says his work asks viewers to think about how history is presented. Who's doing the talking? What history do they want you to believe?
Michael Karaken's "Green Bottles"
Michael Karaken is known for his paintings depicting trash, and he does not vary from that vein with this latest body of work. However he did take the opportunity to create a large triptych of paintings. The shifting perspective in the different panels leave the viewer unsettled. In other pieces, his attention to detail increases as he approaches the center of the canvas, drawing the viewer even more sharply into the piles of car batteries, plastic bottles, and other refuse.
Detail of a still from Carolyn Swiszcz' "Offering"
Perhaps most delightful to explore is Carolyn Swiszcz work. She used the fellowship to branch out from her paintings and create videos. In both, Swiszcz explores the melancholy nature of boring architecture and large, empty parking lots.
In her video "Offering" Swiszcz creates a replica of a K-mart out of twinkies and other junk food, and then offers it up to the seagulls in the parking lot. Both humorous and sad, the video reminds us that so much that was once real has been replaced with artifice.
The 2009-2010 McKnight visual artists will display their work at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design through August 13. In what feels like a bit "musical chairs" later this month MCAD MFA students will show their work at Burnett Gallery in downtown Minneapolis.
Ursula Hargens, Wallflower, 2010, earthenware, gold luster, 62" x 26" x 1". Photo by Peter Lee.
If you've been paying attention to local arts calendars in the past few weeks, you may have noticed a certain name popping up time and time again: "McKnight."
As most artists will tell you, the McKnight Foundation is one of the pillars in Minnesota for funding the arts, and each year it offers over a million dollars to Minnesota artists in fellowships that cover a wide range of disciplines: theater, dance, choreography, photography, visual arts, ceramics.
Right now, McKnight's partner institutions are displaying the results of the past years fellowships. A few weeks back I looked at the work of McKnight's photography fellows, on display at Frankling Art Works, and last weekend McKnight dancers performed new solo works they commissioned at the Southern Theater.
Today I'm looking at two different McKnight funded exhibitions , starting with ceramic artists at Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis(check back later for a profile of visual artists on display at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design).
Maren Kloppmann, Stacked Pillows III/09 (8 Elements), 2009
Northern Clay Center's fellowship program differs a bit from other McKnight programs. In addition to providing fellowships to two Minnesota ceramicists, the center also brings in four artists from outside Minnesota for three month residencies. The idea is to provide artists around the country with time and professional studio space in which to develop their work, while also giving local artists the opportunity to learn new techniques in workshops with these visiting fellows.
Exhibitions Director and Curator Jamie Lang says what always surprises him is how, although their styles are techniques are quite different, these artists' create bodies of work which actually pair together quite well.
What always surprises me is that there is a cohesiveness to the exhibition even though when they're here you don't think they'll work together, or you even worry that they'll compete with one another.
This year's Minnesota fellows are Ursula Hargens and Maren Kloppman (first and second images, respectively). While Hargen's is richly decorated and colored, Kloppman's is sparse and minimalist. Yet both show an expertise with architectural lines and spiritual overtones.
Yoko Sekino-Bové, Noblesse Oblige, 2005
Photo by Jamie Lang
While Kloppman and Hargens created more contemplative bodies of work, the pots and tiles of Yoko Sekino-Bove and Ilena Finocchi reach out and grab you with their biting commentary. Sekino-Bove riffs on the typically precious vases of China and Japan -depicting pandas munching on bamboo and flying cranes - and inserts modern, disillusioned dialogue that burns away at the zen-like veneer.
For her part, Ilena Finocchi casts her eye on modern politics, and finds it lacking. She created tiles that resemble posters for freak shows depicting such familiar faces as Sarah Palin and George Bush. She also sculpted a couple of three dimensional pieces which reveal, quite plainly, her disenchantment with the U.S. government as a whole
Ilena Finocchi, National Frivolity, 2009
Photo by artist.
Finally ceramic artists Elizabeth Smith and Cary Esser are dealing more purely with pattern. Esser creates two dimensional piece with geometric shapes which feel as they could have been removed from a garden wall. Smith used her fellowship to create one very large installation piece called "The Garden;" its four panels reflect the season, affixing ceramic structures to a wall that's been painted with repeating patterns of stencils.
Elizabeth Smith, The Garden (detail), 2009-2010
Photo by Jamie Lang
Lang says the show reflects some of the latest trends in ceramic art.
Decorated surface is a hot trend now. You can see even more of it in our sales gallery. There's more decoration or imagery on the ceramic pieces, such as Yoko's animals and text, more of an exploration within decorations and graphics. I don't think that's unique to ceramics - I'm seeing it on the street with stenciled graffiti, and in graphic novels, too.
Lang says this particular group of fellows stands out for two reasons; they're all women (a first in the fellowship's 13 year history), and almost all of them created work designed to be hung on walls, not just set on tables. Lang notes how both Kloppman and Smith incorporated the walls into their artwork, using paint and shellac to extend the artwork beyond the clay and porcelain objects.
"Northern Clay Center: Six McKnight Artists" runs through August 23 in Minneapolis.
John and Sage Cowles, arts benefactors, will get their due tonight at a special event.
Tonight John and Sage Cowles are being recognized for their lifelong commitment to the arts and for being passionate champions of dance.
Community leaders, friends and family are honoring the philanthropists and arts advocates, who played a pivotal role in the creation of the Minnesota Shubert Center, a new home for dance and performing arts. The center is currently under construction, and set to open in the fall of 2011.
The Cowles' role in transforming the local arts scene dates back 50 years, when John Cowles helped convince Sir Tyrone Guthrie to build a new theater in Minneapolis. The son of a newspaper man, Cowles worked for his father's paper, the Minneapolis Tribune. He eventually became president and CEO of the company in 1968. In 1983 he left Cowles Media and spent twenty years doing whatever interested him, including studying agriculture, teaching fitness, and performing alongside his wife as guest artists in the world tour of a dance piece by Bill T. Jones.
Sage Cowles is the namesake of the "Sage Awards" in the Minnesota dance community. A dancer herself, she performed on Broadway and television before marrying her husband and occupying herself with raising their kids.
In her 50s, Sage returned to dance and helped found the Minnesota Independent Choreographers' Alliance. She taught dance for non-dancers and served on the boards of several dance companies (she currently serves on the board of Merce Cunningham's company).
Sage and John helped fund the Barbara Barker Center for Dance at the University of Minnesota. They also established the Cowles Land Grant Chair, which underwrites residencies by dancers, choreographers, critics, and other professionals in the field. To date more than 140 guest artists have come to the University's Department of Theatre Arts and Dance to teach, choreograph, and lecture through the Cowles' generosity.
The event honoring the Cowles takes place this evening at the Grain Belt Brewery in Northeast Minneapolis.(2 Comments)
It's an exciting night for the Bush Foundation, and for 18 regional artists.
The foundation is presenting its annual Enduring Vision Awards to three, established, mid-career artists, which includes a check for $100,000. The Enduring Vision is the only award of this size and intent in the country.
The goal of the Enduring Vision awards is to support artists at a time in their careers when they're often neglected by funders. The money is intended to carry them through what could be the most productive part of their lives, when they're in their 50's, 60's and beyond.
In addition, the foundation is choosing 15 artists for fellowships that include checks for $50,000.
In total, that's $1,050,000.
While the ceremony is underway at the Minneapolis Central Library, you don't have to be there to find out the winners.
This year's Enduring Vision Awards go to Lakota collage artist Arthur D. Amiotte, Lao weaver Bounxou Chanthraphone. and photographer Paul Shambroom.
Collage art by Arthur D. Amiotte
Arthur D. Amiotte is a Lakota artist and art historian. Born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Amiotte captures and preserves the history and culture of the Sioux people in his collages, incorporating images and text from his great-grandfather, the artist Standing Bear. Amiotte documents the changes his people had to make to adapt to farming, ranching and the reservation lifestyle. Amiotte has lived and worked at Claude Monet's residence in Giverny, France and has received two previous awards from the Bush Foundation.
Detail of a weaving by Bounxou Chanthraphone
Bounxou Daoheuang Chanthraphone emigrated to the U.S. in 1982 after years of living in a refugee camp. A native of Laos, Chanthraphone learned weaving from her mother and grandmother. But as war tore apart her country in the 1970s, she fled for Thailand. Not just a survivor, she spent her time in Ubon Refugee Camp teaching other women to weave, enabling them to earn a living. She and the other women eventually raised enough money to build a school for refugee children. Here in the United States Chanthraphone has continued to contribute to society, teaching traditional Lao weaving to youth and adults, and helping found a Lao community center in her home of Brooklyn Park.
Photograph by Paul Shambroom
Photographer Paul Shambroom has spent over 20 years documenting democracy, security and power, taking viewers from small-town meeting halls to missile silos to training facilities where First Responders prepare for anticipated terrorist attacks. Shambroom's work often involves letter-writing campaigns to grant him - and his camera - access to places most citizens would never otherwise see. In the process of documenting America's pre-occupation with protecting itself, Shambroom raises questions about fear, safety and liberty. Currently Shambroom is exploring the use of decommissioned military weapons as shrines for those who died in combat.
While the Enduring Vision Awards provide established artists with a certain measure of stability to continue along a path they've created for themselves, Bush fellowships for emerging artists often give them the step up to help figure out where exactly they're headed.
This year's fellows include 15 different artists or artistic teams who focus on visual arts, media arts, and traditional, functional crafts.
Artist Nate Young
Nate Young is a multimedia artist who works with whatever materials seems to fit the occasion, whether it's video, drawing, textiles or a performance piece. Young says getting a fellowship means he'll be able to work for more extended periods of time, not just two to four hour bursts.
It's a little bit of freedom - life is hectic. I'm an artist, I work a day job to support my art, and then I'm a single parent. Having a Bush fellowship means I get to focus more on the art for a while.
Young says he wants to use his newly found "breathing room" to work on making his artistic career more sustainable. That means finding a permanent space to work in, and maybe creating a gallery space/cooperative with other artists.
Mosaic artist and muralist Lori Greene
Lori Greene runs "Mosaic on a Stick" in St. Paul. Working with volunteers she's decorated several large planters along Snelling Avenue with colorful mosaics. She says one of the things she wants to do is to add a non-profit arm onto her business, to enable her to do more community projects on a larger scale.
I've already created a community space here, but I'd really like to be able to offer it to everybody at every income level and maybe create some kind of training system so people can develop a skill they don't have that provides more work or a new opportunity.
Greene is inspired by places like the Village of Arts and Humanities in Philadelphia and Project Row Houses in Houston. Both are "art villages" that combine arts activiities, social services and housing to create community through an active celebration of art and culture.
It should be noted that while the Bush Foundation is giving away more than a million dollars to individual artists this year, it has cut its Regional Arts Development Program, which has given close to $20 million to mid-size arts organizations since it was created in 1996.(1 Comments)
The Childrens' Theatre Company has announced it's eliminating approximately 9% of its full and part-time staff positions, and eliminating two shows from its coming season (Ballonacy and Lord of the Flies) in an effort to trim its budget to a more sustainable size.
In a written statement to the press, CTC officials said these changes will result in an 11 percent reduction in the budget size of the organization, down-shifting it from $10.7 to $9.4 million.
This comes after a 14 percent cut to the budget last year, which then stood at $12.3 million.
Neither Managing Director Gabriella Calicchio or Artistic Director Peter Brosius were available for questioning beyond their comments in the printed release.
Bedlam Theatre is still working on fixing the large hole in its "fireplace room," just below where there used to be a stage. In order to raise money for repairs, the theater company has decided to use the hole as a source of artistic inspiration. Tomorrow night from 8 - 11pm, people will dance in the hole, speak from the hole, or simply share how Bedlam fills their hole.
How does this work, you may ask? I checked with co-founder John Bueche, who says they've constructed a small stage in the fireplace room, and have covered up all the not-so-nice bits. The performances will be broadcast on a big screen on Bedlam's mainstage and lobby, so attendees can watch from where the floor is still just fine. There's no cover charge, and people at home will be able to stream the performances on their computers. The event will serve to inform people of the latest repairs, and solicit donations of time and talent.
Posted at 3:32 PM on May 5, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
Starting this week, buying cheap tickets in the Twin Cities should get quite a bit easier.
Goldstar.com, a business that partners with purveyors of live events, ranging from sports to comedy to classical music, is expanding its reach to Twin Cities metro area. The site sells half-price tickets to cultural events, helping theater companies and sports teams to fill up seats that might otherwise be empty. Goldstar.com co-founder Jim McCarthy says many people have the misconception that most shows sell out:
In reality that's not true - the great majority of performances don't sell out, but that doesn't mean they're not successful. If a theater sells 80% of its seats for the run of a play, that's going to be a wildly successful show. But it still means that 20% of the house is still available to sell. And there's no reason to let even one seat go unsold.
According to McCarthy, Goldstar.com's goal is to help people overcome whatever barriers that stand between them and going out to see a live event.
If you're like most people then you want to go out to things like theater, comedy and sports more than you currently do. Our mission has always been to get people out seeing live performance more - it makes their lives richer and better. The biggest competitors outside of price are movie theaters, dvd rentals and inertia. Inertia is a formidable competitor. It's free and readily available.
To help overcome people's reticence to go out, Goldstar.com offers advice on such matters as how to dress and where to park. It also gives users the opportunity to review shows they've seen. McCarthy says reviews are limited to people who've bought tickets to a particular show through the site, thereby screening out illegitimate raves and rants.
Already several local companies, large and small, have signed up to work with Goldstar.com, including the Guthrie Theater, Minnesota Lynx and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Walking Shadow Theatre Company has also joined the new site. Executive Director David Pisa says he's pleased by how much control he has over his company's listings.
What's great for the company is that it truly appears to be all sorts of entertainment that's listed, which is important to us because it means it will reach a wide variety of people. We're in the point in our history where we're trying to reach new audiences. So we'll go wherever we can to reach people who haven't come to our shows before. We would much rather have somebody in a seat no matter what they're paying, than have that seat go empty.
Pisa says he's hopeful the Goldstar.com site will help baseball fans to try theater, and dance lovers to give comedy a try.
There's no fee for companies to work with Goldstar.com; the site makes its money off the transaction fees it adds to tickets. Those fees average around $4.50 per ticket. Jim McCarthy recognizes that's a little more pricey than what other venues charge, but he thinks it's worth it considering the half-off price of the ticket, as well as the extra information and service the site provides.
For companies worried about developing younger audiences, Goldstar.com offers a hopeful statistic; about two-thirds of its one million users nationwide are under 40.
Posted at 1:20 PM on April 6, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
Yesterday mnartists.org and Springboard for the Arts launched "Community Supported Art Shares," a program for supporting artists similar to that used by local farms.
By midmorning today, all 50 shares were sold out.
So now what?
Project head Scott Stulen is, as you might expect, thrilled by the overwhelming response to the program:
We anticipated strong demand based on converstations in the community and the amount of applications from artists and it was wonderful to have those ideas reinforced by the quick sell out of the shares. Due to the response we are planning on a Fall Season of the CSA in September, October and November.
Heck, if the momentum continues, you might be able to get art shares in winter! Now that's something not even your local farmer can provide.
Stulen say people interested in the fall shares should contact Andy Sturdevant at 651-292-4381 or email@example.com.
Posted at 2:26 PM on April 5, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
If you buy a share of "Community Supported Art" this summer you could end up with some cool tunes by Switzerlind or photography by band member Sam Hoolihan.
Imagine going to your neighborhood CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) drop-off site to pick up your share of locally farmed fruits and veggies. But instead of peas and potatoes, your box is full of pottery, paintings, and poetry?
I imagine it would be like Easter, except you wouldn't have to worry about the sugar-high or cavities. And while with Easter baskets you kind of know what you're getting (peeps, chocate rabbit, Cadbury eggs, jelly beans, blah blah blah), with these "artist shares" you'd really have NO IDEA what you were getting. Except that it's ART. Kind of exciting, don't you think?
Well the folks at Springboard for the Arts are hoping you do. Starting today you can buy a share in "Community Supported Art." There are fifty shares for sale, and each will run you $300. In exchange you will get at least one work of art from each of the the nine different artists who were selected to participate in this summer's program, plus a "bumper crop of additional artwork and arts activities." The idea is to support local artists the same way you would local farmers.
Interested in learning more? Check out Rupa Shenoy's story.
File under "it was too good to be true:"
In a release sent out today, GiveMN Executive Director Dana Nelson announced that the donations made to Minnesota non-profits through the GiveMN website would cease being "fee-free" as of October 1, 2010.
The website, which launched last November 17 with "Give to the Max Day," received a lot of initial press for both its offer to do for free what many non-profits can't afford to do on their own (create a web page for online donations) and also for not giving Minnesota non-profits much of a heads up on how to get involved in, or bow out of, the project.
GiveMN was quickly overwhelmed by public response to calls to donate via its site, and almost immediately went through the initial start-up funds set aside for paying transaction fees. In the past months Nelson has been looking at other means to make the site free for all who participate (including a page on GiveMN where you can donate to the running of the site itself) but it appears none of the options considered were sustainable.(1 Comments)
After eight years running in the city of St. Paul, Starting Gate Productions has decided to close the gate for good, citing the recession and financial woes as the primary factors in the decision.
The company, which got its start performing in the Loading Dock back in 2001, has produced 36 shows in its life span, and is producing a 37th, called "Our Country's Good," to bring the company to an end. All actors, producers and designers have agreed to do the show on a pro bono basis to help the organization pay down its debt.
According to a press release, the theater has suffered a decline in attendance in the past two years which it attributes to the recession. In addition, it cited "a chronic shortage of administrators willing to work for free" as a deciding factor. Don Eitel, former Starting Gate Artistic Director, left the company in 2007 to work as the managing director of Mu Performing Arts.
"Our Country's Good," which runs April 23 - May 16, is a "dramedy" about the first play produced in Britain's Austrailian penal colony , and features a return of many of Starting Gate's core performers. According to the theater, the play was chosen to end Starting Gate's run because "it's message regarding the redemptive power of theater provides us with the opportunity to reaffirm the artist's firm belief in this medium's potential to transform lives."
Performances take place at The Mounds Theatre in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood, where Starting Gate has made its home since 2004.
In the wake of last week's giving frenzy, I had a chance to review some of the numbers in a little more detail. After cozying up with a 99 page pdf file over the weekend, and perusing Minnesotans' generosity, I was left to wonder: how do we decide who to give our money to?
For instance take a look at these numbers from last week's "Give to the Max Day" - note: they do not reflect the "match" by GiveMN, but simply the donations made by the public.
Guthrie Theater - $40,075
Children's Theater Company and School - $57,545
Minneapolis Institute of Arts - $19,058
Walker Art Center - $9,120
Animal Humane Society - $67,069
Habitat for Humanity - $12,539
Graywolf Press - $9,185
American Cancer Society - $7,880
American Composers Forum - $20,314
American Red Cross Twin Cities Chapter - $23,825
Dorothy Day Hospitality House (homeless shelter) - $645
Advocates against Domestic Abuse - $255
Second Harvest Heartland - $183,291
YMCA of Greater St. Paul - $117,175
YWCA of St. Paul, Minnesota - $3,230
It's interesting to see the range in generosity to both arts organizations and those non-profits that provide crisis services such as food and shelter. I realize some of these numbers may simply reflect an organization's efforts to get the word out, but it also made me think about the decision to give.
How do we balance our giving to the arts alongside the needs of the homeless and hungry? What questions do you ask yourself before you decide to give to a particular non-profit? How do you 'justify' giving money to an organization that many see as a luxury, not a necessity? And if you're willing to share, who are you giving your money to this year, as unemployment is at its highest level in 25 years and social services are being cut?
No answers in today's post - just questions. I welcome your thoughts.(9 Comments)
Posted at 6:22 PM on November 19, 2009
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
I spoke to the heads of a range of Minnesota non-profits today. Here's some of what they had to say about their experience with GiveMN.org and "Give to the Max Day."
Janet Bisbee, Director of Development, Resources for Child Caring, Inc:
We were very excited about it, because we had not done a lot of online giving before. We found that people took advantage of it. What was exciting was that 8 of the 20 donors we got were brand new, and one donor we hadn't heard from since 1990... It really encouraged organizations like mine to get our houses in order and get our Facebook pages spiffy and start to communicate more about ways to give online. Going forward we will definitely continue to use GiveMN.
What I really liked about the day was the sense of camaraderie with other organizations, knowing that we were all sitting at our computers watching this incredible thing unfold. I really can't think of anything else like this that has brought non-profits and donors come together this way.
About the match - I'm concerned about it, because I know some people are feeling misled by organizations. Going forward I think this is going to enforce us all to be clearer about what exactly the matches are.
Gunnar Liden, Executive Director, Youth Farm and Market Project
It went really well, we raised a good amount of money. I think also giving us the publicity and the reason to link up with our donors about what we're doing and the needs we have was a very good thing. I think it has the potential to be great but I'm hesitant to evaluate the impact of it until possibly the first of the year. For a lot of organizations this time of year is big, so if Give to the Max either makes that easier for organizations to connect with their donors or allows an easier way for new donors to come in, I think it will be even more successful.
The downside potential would be if after the 17th, the majority of the people who are doing giving in the Twin Cities are sort of done.
A one-stop-shop is great. That being said, organizations develop relationships with donors and if donor A took this chance to give $10 to 15 organizations instead of $110 to the one organization they've given to for the past ten years every year, that would be a potential downside for those organizations that have those relationships.
Louise Wolfgramm, President of Amicus
It was fantastic. Pretty effortless. We understood that we didn't know exactly how much the match would be, that it depended on the response. So our expectation wasn't great around the matching part of it. I don't think it was misleading to our donors either.
I think everybody is just overwhelmed by the generosity of Minnesotans to respond to the charities they care about.
I think one of the concerns people have when they do their giving online is that the organization is not getting the full amount, so maybe it would be better if I sent a check, but if they can do it online - people read your material, they feel motivated when they see it, and if we can make it easy enough for them to give online it's a really efficient way to do it for everybody, especially if they don't take a fee out of it. So I think we will definitely encourage people to give that way.
Susan Haas, Producing Director, Open Eye Figure Theatre
It came up really suddenly - I heard about it mid-week last week and we scrambled to get something up. I've been looking at it to see what would we have gotten anyway, because I would say that almost 40% of it was from board contributions that would normally have come at the end of the year, so I think it drove a lot of the end of the year giving into this just because of the idea of the match.
To my mind I'm just blown away by the tool that has been handed us through the site. It was really easy to use, it's a real service as far as I'm concerned. Open Eye has one administrator - me! - so I really appreciate it.
I think there was a lot of miscommunication and the fact that they did change things as they went along, and I can't even say that I really followed all of it because we're just adding this to everything else we're doing. So that was unfortunate but I sort of look at it like the way we do things here at Open Eye- it's like "well it's not perfect yet, but you've got to start somewhere."
That's it for tonight... you can read/listen to the story I did on GiveMN here. Tomorrow I'll take a look at how arts organizations fared on Give to the Max Day.
During the past few days I've sensed some confusion about why I've paid so much attention to the launch of GiveMN and "Give to the Max Day." Some people have assumed that their must be a connection to the fact that I work for MPR, and my reporting reflects MPR's views on the new website and its aim to streamline charitable giving.
That's simply not the case. Here's what I wrote in a comment to yesterday's post:
For me, at the heart of my reporting and my questions, is the belief that any new endeavor that affects so many people and involves so much money must be looked at closely and thoroughly. That remains true whether it's a for-profit or a non-profit organization.
GiveMN Executive Director Dana Nelson and Razoo CEO Sebastian Traeger both said that this is a bold experiment, something which has never been attempted at this scale. If this really does mark a significant shift in how non-profits will receive their donations in the years to come, then we owe it to those non-profits and their donors to make sure it's the right tool for the job.
Yes, MPR is a non-profit that also conducts fund drives. It also participated in Give to the Max Day, and placed 8th amongst all the organizations in terms of the number of donations it received. The final numbers are out, and while I'll do more in-depth analysis of how organizations did later today, I want to at least give you MPR's numbers right away:
Number of contributions to MPR: 422
Amount contributed to MPR through GiveMN: $54,794
Amount eligible for the match*: $52,294
Total match given to MPR: $2,113.50
*The "match" from GiveMN ended up being four cents on the dollar. This is because only the first $2,500 of any one donation was counted toward the match. E.g. if you gave $3,500 to the Animal Humane Society, only $2,500 of it would be matched. At four cents on the dollar your contribution would have raised the Animal Humane Society an additional $100.
Any questions? Feel free to ask them.(1 Comments)
At 8am this morning, GiveMN's "Give to the Max Day" came to a close. The ticker on the site has now stopped surging forward.
The totals? $13,045,154 were given to 3,111 non-profits (Update: later today GiveMN revised that number to $14 million to 3,141 non-profits). A couple of pretty stunning numbers, don't you think? The three non-profits that received the most contributions (but not necessarily the most money) were Second Harvest Heartland, College of Saint Benedict and Twin Cities Public Television. They will receive awards of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000, respectively.
I spoke with GiveMN executive director Dana Nelson shortly after 8am to get her take on how the day went. In short, Nelson says she is emotionally overwhelmed at the generosity of Minesotans. She says today will be spent verifying the totals. Tomorrow GiveMN will publish all the detailed results, i.e. how much each non-profit raised, and how much of the $500,000 match they will get (if my math is correct, non-profits will receive about 3.8 cents on the dollar).
I also asked her to respond to some questions that I have seen popping up both here on the blog and in my in-box. First question - does Nelson think people would have been as generous if they had a clearer understanding of the giving guidelines?
I think ultimately a small portion of the communications were inaccurate. We, my team, we were doing a full court press with all of our outreach partners .... Everyone in the sector was working as hard as possible to make sure that people had correct information and wouldn't have a bad taste in their mouth a day after. The whole purpose of the matching funds was to inspire giving and gosh it worked.
You say you were working hard to make sure people had the correct information, but the home page of GiveMN.org continued to say "have your donation matched" until late yesterday evening. Why?
That's a true statement - every donation that went through in the 24 hours - a portion will receive a match. Bush Foundation's Scott Cooper said it really well when he said that ironically it was Minnesota's generosity that caused the match to go down. And in the end I think inspiring a huge dollar amount in the hands of our non-profit sector is ultimately a very very successful result of the day.
Who gets access to the data of all these donors?
How is Razoo (the server provider, and a for-profit entity) paid?
Razoo is paid an annual contracted amount by GiveMN. That money comes from our funding partners. Razoo does not take a commission or get paid more based on activity on the site.
The more than $13 million raised translates to more than $600,000 in transaction fees. Who is paying those fees?
Again, that money comes from our funding partners. And it should be made clear, that's $600,000 that would have come from the non-profits, but now it's covered by the GiveMN site. The money goes to Network for Good, a non-profit that handles the transactions.
What have you learned in the course of "Give to the Max Day?"
Lessons learned - gosh, I mean I knew it, but it certainly confirmed the generosity of Minnesotans. When you ask folks to step up, we sure are a caring people and it's really really wonderful.
In the coming days I'll be looking more closely at the strategies behind the real success stories and how to be an effective fundraiser going forward. Ultimately will we be effective in changing people's behavior(i.e. moving people from writing a check to going online because it makes sense for the non-profit financially and is more efficient)? Quite honestly If we're not of value to the sector we shouldn't exist, and we'll continue to make decisions based on that belief.
As for me, today I'll be talking with non-profits that participated in "Give to the Max Day," and see how it went for them. I'll be asking how this could affect end-of-year giving, or whether it will take the place of a year-end campaign for some organizations. And how helpful was GiveMN at directing new donors to non-profits?
Tomorrow, once the final numbers are published, I'll take a closer look at who benefitted the most, and how smaller organizations fared compared to the big-hitters.
Earlier this afternoon I took a look at the top ten ranking for non-profits in GiveMN's "Give to the Max Day." 1st place: Second Harvest Heartland. 2nd place: Animal Humane Society. 3rd place: Desiring God Ministries.
Now the first two I'd heard of, but the third didn't ring a bell. My colleague Bob Collins brought me up to speed. It turns out the man at the pulpit of Desiring God Ministries, John Piper, is pretty adamant when it comes to homosexuality. Here's an excerpt from one of his sermons:
We want to be a church where homosexual people can either overcome their sexual disorder, or find the faith and courage and help and love and power to live a triumphant, joyful, celibate life with the disorder.
My immediate reaction was "do Minnesota foundations realize they are supporting this sort of worldview with the GiveMN site? And that this organization may end up winning an extra $1,000 for generating so many donations today?"
I called the Bush Foundation to find out its stance, and was connected with C. Scott Cooper, Director of Engagement and Communications. He said situations like this are bound to come up.
This is democracy in action - it's people deciding for themselves where to put their dollars and our focus has really been on making sure that it's as easy as possible for people to make their contributions when non-profits are providing all sorts of critical services in the community and are suffering because of the economy.
Certainly there are non-profits that do all kinds of different things, some of which we may love or we may hate, but the idea behind GiveMN is to make it as easy as possible for people to give and have their dollars go farther.
Fair enough - so some people may give to Desiring God Ministries, while others may give to Planned Parenthood.
Meanwhile, as I write this, GiveMN's total donations ticker registers $8,583,342. Only the non-profits themselves know how much they've made today - that information is not readily available to other users. So I can't tell you who's making the most off of this.
However I can calculate that non-profits stand to gain less than six cents on the dollar in todays "match." I asked Cooper about the confusion surrounding the match, and how some donors, and some arts organizations were expecting at least a 50 cent match on the dollar for every donation made. Cooper says it's unfortunate that some people didn't get the message clearly.
The initial plan had been to give away this five hundred thousand dollars in matching money to the first million dollars in contributions during the day. But then some concerns were raised about the volume of traffic that would happen at 8 oclock in the morning and so the decision was made to spread the money throughout the day and the amount of the match would depend on the amount of contributions made in the course of the day.
Cooper says the irony is that Minnesota's generosity is what's caused the value of the matching funds to go down.
Because it's going so well, a huge amount has been contributed - it is going to be a smaller amount per contribution. It's actually a great problem to have. When you think about it, the combination of these things, the covering of the transaction costs, and the partial match means instead of making a contribution and having 95 cents of your dollar get to the organization, this organization is getting maybe 1.08 for every dollar you give, which seems like a good thing and a good reason to give today.
"Give to the Max Day" ends at 8am tomorrow morning.(1 Comments)
As I write this, the ticker at GiveMN states $5,532,363 has been give since 8am to 2,206 Minnesota non-profits. Now that's a great day by any standards, so congratulations the folks at GiveMN, and their supporters.
However I'm a little concerned that people still think that if they give money to a non-profit on the GiveMN site today, their donation will be "matched" - i.e. a $25 pledge will earn the non-profit $50. This is simply not the case.
As I wrote yesterday, a group of foundations gave GiveMN $500,000 in to use as "matching funds" to inspire people's generosity. That set amount is being spread out over all the donations made today.
So as of 1:30pm, that $500,000 equals approximately ten cents on the dollar. As the number of donations accumulate, that ratio will drop further. Yet the main page on GiveMN continues to state that "all donations will be matched!"
You have to scroll down and look at the detailed writing to find these words:
Every donation made on Give to the Max Day will receive a portion of a $500,000 match. The exact amount matched per dollar donated will be determined after Give to the Max Day concludes, and the $500,000 in matching funds will be divided by the total donation amount raised over the 24-hour period.
It should also be noted that while Executive Director Dana Nelson says she hopes GiveMN will always be free to participating non-profits, that depends entirely on funding. In addition to relying on its funding partners, GiveMN is soliciting donations today right along with all the other non-profits.
A couple of people have asked me "so does this mean that foundations are paying for credit card transactions with money that would have gone directly to non-profits?" I put the question to Dana Nelson. Her response? Minnesota foundations view GiveMN as a lucrative investment that will inspire more people to give more generously to more non-profits. They're thinking of it as seed money, and as such, money well spent.
Nelson says she's overwhelmed by the response that's come in so far today. Her hope is that word continues to spread about the generosity of Minnesotans, and even more are inspired to join in.(14 Comments)
It started harmlessly enough about a week ago. An e-mail from an arts organization asked me to "give to the max!" for it's fundraiser. Not that uncommon for my inbox, and so I moved on to the next item.
Then the next day, a similar message, from another arts group - this time a dance company. "Double your impact when you give!" A matching grant, I thought (I'm familiar enough with those) - how nice.
Then a third, and a fourth, and now even my facebook page is replete with urges to give, and not just when I have some money to spare but TOMORROW! November 17th!!! PLEASE!!!
So I finally clicked through a couple of these messages to the source of the onslaught, GiveMN.org. It turns out this site is offering itself up as a common destination for all giving to Minnesota based non-profits, and is "launching" itself tomorrow with a special matching grant of $500,000 (those dollars are the combined contributions of the Saint Paul Foundation, the Minneapolis Foundation and the Bush Foundation). In addition, the three nonprofits that receive donations from the most individuals will receive cash prizes of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000, respectively.
Well as of this writing GiveMN has 33,748 organizations listed on its website. If they split the $500,000, they'd each get $14.82. Big whoop. Of course many of these listings offer nothing more than a name to go by, like "Help the Helpless" or "Intimeofneed.org." I called the head of "Razoo," the server hosting GiveMN, and CEO Sebastian Traeger told me that the site initially puts up the names of all listed nonprofits in the state. It's then up to those organizations to claim the page and populate with images and information. So far around 2,000 non-profits have responded. GiveMN looks pretty empty right now (but hey, that means those 2,000 arts organizations could make matching funds of $250 each on average - that's a little better than $14.82).
GiveMN's angle is that it covers the cost of donating online (approximately a 4.75% charge for processing a credit card transaction) through supporting grants and partner funds, so the arts organization always receives 100% of a donation.
Traeger's hope is that the Minnesota site will take off, and other states will want to follow suit. The site is almost entirely managed by Razoo staff located in Washington, D.C. The only listed Minnesota staff for GiveMN - executive director Dana Nelson - could not be reached for comment as of this writing.
Update: Just talked with Dana Nelson. She said GiveMN was created because people are getting more and more comfortable with making purchases online. She said non-profits have lagged behind in this area, and it made sense to have a website that's easy and efficient for both parties. Nelson said Minnesota, with its strong community support, seemed like a perfect place to test out such a site.
At heart the new website sounds like a great idea, but the effectiveness of launching a fundraising website by sending all your clients out asking for money on the same day seems questionable, at best. After all, how much can one person give on the same day (with a one-week warning, tops) to all his or her favorite institutions in need? It may help raise the profile of the new website, but what damage will it do in the process?
I should state for the record that as an arts reporter, I don't give money to arts organizations for ethical reasons, so I don't feel the request for funds as acutely as I imagine my arts- and other non-profit-loving friends do. At the worst, I imagine this barrage of pleading e-mails may actually put off some contributors (I think of it as akin to oh, say, turning on the radio only to find all your favorite stations are hosting fund drives at the same time - now who would do that?).
Oh and by the way, one of those non-profits asking for your donations on November 17th? You guessed it - Minnesota Public Radio.
I'll be interested to see how the experiment works. Will giving to non-profits become easier for everyone involved? Or will the organizations lose the direct relationship with their donors that they've worked so long to foster? And will each non-profit simply be lost in a sea filled with 33,747 competitors?
Check back to hear how "Give to the Max Day" turns out.(6 Comments)
A new movement is spreading across the nation that combines grassroots arts funding with sustainable agriculture. It's called "FEAST," or "Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics." And this Saturday it's making its debut in Minneapolis.
Jeff Hnilicka is a founder of FEAST in Brooklyn, which first started hosting dinners to raise funds for artists in February.
The basic set up is we have two hundred to five hundred people that come out for a big dinner. We locally source it working with a farm. We cook a big vegetarian organic meal. Everyone gets supper and a ballot and we charge a small door fee - we ask ten to 20 dollars and then there's about 15 artists projects around the room, and whoever gets the most votes gets the money that we collect at the door. And then the artist comes back the next month and shows what they've been working on.
Hnilicka compares the artist presentations to highschool science fairs. They stand next to a table with some images of their work, and a brief description, and answer questions. It's a lot less time consuming than preparing a grant application. In addition, the artist knows whether or not they got funding in about four hours times.
Hnilicka says he was inspired by a similar program in Chicago called InCUBATE which holds a weekly Sunday soup dinner to raise money for artists (that program appears to be ending this month). But Hnilicka's monthly events are more of a blow-out affair, which often raise upwards of $1000 in an evening. That's not chump change to an artist who's trying to both make art and pay the rent.
The project came out of wanting to explore sustainable means of funding art. We all felt really vulnerable in our career paths and at the same time that was happening, we were engaging in sustainable food practices. So we wanted to see how we could take those systems and apply them to art-making.
Hnilicka says he knows of similar programs now underway in Portland (Oregon), Baltimore, Buffalo (New York), and Milwaukee. And he thinks the Twin Cities would make a good home to such a program, too.
I think there's a unique sense of philanthropy in the Twin Cities and also for its size a really strong local arts community, but also one I think that needs a lot more support than it's necessarily already getting.
Hnilicka is in town this week to talk to artists and community members about the FEAST program (he's speaking this afternoon at Springboard for the Arts), and to attend the first ever Minneapolis FEAST. The dinner takes place Saturday from 6 - 10pm at Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art.(3 Comments)
Many arts reporters wondered if this day would ever come. For ten years now, local dance advocates have been working hard to raise the money and clout to rehabilitate the old Shubert building into a center for dance performance and education. Now it looks like they're going to have their way. According to the Center, construction will begin on November 19, with a ceremonial groundbreaking.
The Minnesota Shubert Center project began when the Shubert Theater was moved from its historic location on Block E. The move, which was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records, placed the Shubert Theater 50 feet away from what is now the Hennepin Center for the Arts (an 1888 building originally built as a Masonic Temple). Work on the Shubert is expected to be completed by early 2011.(1 Comments)
With a few exceptions, 2009 has been a year of salary freezes, layoffs and declining revenue for many Minnesota arts organizations. With all the reported sightings of the 'green shoots of a recovery' and an emerging belief that the worst of the recession is behind us, is the worst over for arts groups?
Bush Foundation President Peter Hutchinson says no. In fact, Hutchinson says 2010 is likely to be worse than 2009.
Hutchinson said arts groups depend primarily on four sources of revenue -- ticket sales, individual donations, public funding, and philanthropic giving. He expects ticket sales and individual donations will continue to be detrimentally affected by the high unemployment rate, which is predicted to linger well into 2010.
The arts may be buffered a little by new money from the stimulus package and the Legacy Amendment passed by voters last year, but Hutchinson doesn't think the level of public funding will actually rise over previous years.
Which brings us to philanthropic contributions. Hutchinson said the level of giving is dropping because of the hit foundation portfolios have taken on Wall Street.
"Foundation giving is likely to be down because most foundations figure their giving using a three year rolling average," he said. "As we went into 2009 we had a couple of really good years behind us. But as we go into 2010, we've got this really bad year that we have to incorporate into that formula, and I think that's actually going to lead to lower giving for many foundations when it comes to the arts. So, if I were predicting, I would say that arts and cultural organizations, oh and by the way, most other non-profit organizations, are going to face a really tough 2010."
Hutchinson said because of that three-year formula, foundation giving tends to be higher than you'd expect going into a recession. But he said it also lags coming out, meaning the economy generally recovers more quickly than foundation giving. He said foundation giving probably won't return to pre-recession levels until 2012.
"But that assumes that the market recovers," added Hutchinson, which he said isn't certain.
In his view, the recession may have a significant diminishing effect on the Minnesota arts landscape, depending on how arts groups respond in their programming. Hutchinson said they may be tempted to play it safe, and bring out the old "warhorse" productions that put butts in seats. He thinks that might not be wise.
"I actually think that's probably a risky strategy in the long run, because in my view this is a time when we're under stress," he said. "Communities are under stress, individuals, families, people are suffering, and I think arts organizations have a chance to kind of call us to our higher selves. Arts, more than any other institution, have this way and means of appealing to peoples' emotions, to reaching into our souls. And if all they do is put on fluff, I don't think that's rising to their highest opportunity at a time when we probably need them in ways that we've not before."
Hutchinson believes the art groups that are more relevant to their audiences in these tough times are more likely to remain relevant when the happy times are here again.
Michael Kaiser, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, spoke this morning to a group of arts leaders at the Ordway in St. Paul. His message? Don't panic.
Kaiser is a bit of a golden boy in the world of arts management and fundraising; he successfully dug the Royal Opera House out of several million dollars in debt. He performed similar miracles on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the American Ballet Theatre.
Kaiser says the last thing an arts organization should do in hard economic times is cut back on its programming. If anything, Kaiser says, this is the time to be even more creative, to challenge and excite audiences.
And Kaiser says, the last thing audiences want to hear from their favorite theaters or dance companies is how tough things are:
People come to us to be entertained, to be inspired, for solace, for refuge and yet we're talking so much about how bad it is, how we have no money, how bankrupt we're becoming - and we're pushing them away because we're talking so much externally about our internal problems. I don't believe in talking publicly about my problems - that's what my family's for.
Kaiser's remarks may have come across as a bit idealistic to managers gathered this morning. They're dealing with immediate issues of 10% budget cuts and disillusioned boards. And when Kaiser said "whatever you do, don't cut programming," I could almost see the bubble clouds above audience heads saying "But there's nothing else left to cut!"
Still, there's plenty of evidence that "If you create it, they will come." Just a look at this summer's Minnesota Fringe Festival shows that people are still interested in seeing new work, even if it's a financial risk.
Kaiser also underscored the importance of organizations collaborating with one another, something the Twin Cities arts organizations are already quite good at. Small theaters regularly perform on larger theater stages, thus cross-pollinating audiences. Dance companies commission musicians... and musicians commission dancers.
Kaiser ended on an optimistic note, despite the obvious tension in the room.
We are such an incredibly creative and resilient industry. You know there was a statistic earlier this year - Americans for the Arts suggested that 10,000 arts organizations would go out of business. It's not anywhere near that number. We're so creative - we find ways to make do with nothing, we find ways to bounce back. It's just a remarkable fraternity to be a part of.
The question I came away with is, do artists have the energy they need to continue to creative and resilient under increasingly trying circumstances? How much is too much to take?(3 Comments)
Emily Haddad is a big fan of IFP Minnesota. After all it did give her the Fresh Film grant last year which allowed her to make "The Egg Timer" which premieres tonight at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis.
The film, which stars local actor Stacia Rice, had a couple of inspirations when Haddad (left) first began writing it five years ago.
"My mother was very sick at the time and I was taking care of her," she said. "Also a story from my grandmother's childhood. It's about guilt and confession."
Haddad tried to produce it a couple of times, but she was never able to gather the resources she needed to tell the story the way she felt it should be told. The she won the grant.
"It was just a wonderful opportunity," she said, not just because of the money, but also because of the way the Twin Cities film community came together to help her. You can read extensive details in the blog she kept over the last year. What is remarkable is the huge number of people who came forward, and were really needed for the production.
"It's a complicated process," she said. "Pre-production, and then the production with the film crew and the director of photography and the actors. Then post-production, people that help edit it and mix the sound track and do graphics and animation."
Haddad counted up all the people mentioned in the credits of the film, which just runs 16 minutes, and came up with over 100 who had helped significantly with the film.
She says it's a shame that there are so few productions being made in Minnesota. "Because we have so many talented people and we need to really to push to allow them to use those talents on more films."
After the screening of "The Egg Timer" tonight at IFP's Fresh Fete, Haddad will enter the film into film festivals around the country. She is hoping not only to get into events around the country but also to screen the film more around Minnesota.
You can hear our conversation, recorded yesterday by clicking on this link" Listen
That's today's question on MPRnewsQ, in light of the fact that the St. Paul City Council is considering whether to dedicate funds to the creation and maintenance of public art.
The debate around public art funding has been simmering of late, with Governor Pawlenty criticizing Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak for spending half a million dollars on public art drinking fountains. Rybak's office responded the amount of money is a wise investment given the revenue the arts generate for the city.
Time and time again public art has been shown to play a key role in the quality of life of a community.
So what's the right answer? Today's question has already provoked some interesting responses.
Melinda Childs writes:
Art and culture is always an easy target in times of economic hardship but many would argue that it is these times when we need art and culture the most as a way to give ourselves perspective and to create dialog and a sense of community.
Kevin Watters counters:
This question hits at the root of "what is government for?" and "How big should government be?" I think government should not be in the business of spending YOUR discretionary income.
Non-controversial art is entertainment. People support what they enjoy being entertained with by paying to see it. We do not have the 'right' to 'free', government sponsored entertainment.
Aaron Perleberg falls inbetween the two camps:
This is a classic debate of cost vs benefit; which I am sure will produce some strong differing opinions. When the people vote on the matter, as they did in the 2008 constitutional amendment, it is the perfect example of when public art is a good use. The people had the opportunity to voice their opinion about how much money & what it would go towards. When the people have a chance to speak, I think it's great use of public art. When appointed bureaucrats in appointed positions start dictating when & where - then I don't think it is a good use of public dollars.
Where do you fall? When would you want your taxpayer dollars spent on public art?(4 Comments)
Photo by Dave Stagner
For the third year running, Commedia Beauregard is bringing back its new holiday classic "A Klingon Christmas Carol." But this time, the theater company is attempting to blossom the production into a 12-show run. Quite the feat, since the entire play is in Klingon.
In order to beef up funding, Commedia Beauregard is offering the opportunity to "Adopt a Klingon." For $100, you can be the sole proprietor of SQuja (Scrooge), QachIt (Bob Cratchit), vreD (Fred), or even the ghost of marlI' (Jacob Marley).
As an adoptive parent benefits include a letter from your Klingon with a picture of his or her snarling face, an invitation to a meet-and-greet reception to get to know your Klingon, a ticket to openint night of "A Klingon Christmas Carol" and a photo of you and your Klingon.
Here's a site that encourages you to be creative for a good cause. The canvas? A slice of bread. You can draw on it, and even download images onto it. Every piece of "bread art" results in a $1 donation to Feeding America, formerly known as America's Second Harvest.
There's also a gallery of other people's work, and as you wander from image to image you are fed little tidbits of information about hunger in the United States. The Bread Art Project was created by the Grain Foods Foundation to raise awareness about the prevalence of hunger here at home.
Mayor Rybak writes "The $250,000 in funds the City of Minneapolis spends each year on public art is a tiny sum, given the important role the arts play in our community." (FYI, the other half of the funding for the fountains came from fees for city water, a fund dedicated to water-related projects.) And besides, the money for the project is entirely separate from the city's general fund, Rybak said, and has nothing to do with the local government aid money the city receives from the state.
I spoke to Rybak's Communications Director, Jeremy Hanson, and he added that considering what an important source of revenue the arts are for Minneapolis, the quarter-million dollar annual investment is really a good deal. And Mary Altman, the city's Public Arts Administrator, writes:
The City of Minneapolis annual public art budget is actually pretty small compared to most cities of our size. That is because most cities actually have much larger capital budgets--because their governments and government budgets are larger. (Most major cities manage a transit program, libraries--some even manage airports.)
I'm wondering when this conversation will go back to politicians bragging about how much money they spend on the arts, instead of having to defend it.
Governor Tim Pawlenty took a shot this afternoon at Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, saying "Minneapolis has been on an unbroken streak of 8 percent increases in property taxes, funding things like $50,000 artistic fountains." This just after the governor announced $2.7 billion in "unallotments" to balance the state budget.
Interestingly enough, Pawlenty didn't make any noticable cuts to the arts today. His strategy mainly affects local government, education and health and human services. But he does raise a good question: when is it inappropriate to fund the arts? Should arts grants be cut before funding for social services for the disabled or homeless? Is saving lives more important than funding art? If that were the case, it would seem we could always find places to put public money before allowing it to trickle down to artists.
The money for Minneapolis' ten new drinking fountains comes from a designated public art fund. And it's supposed to draw attention to issues surrounding clean drinking water, not just look cool. But considering the recession we're in, could the half-million dollars be spent more wisely?
Last night the Bush Foundation announced this year's recipients of its Enduring Vision Awards. They are (from left to right above) flutist and hoop-dancer Kevin Locke, storyteller Mary Louise Defender Wilson, and local showman and puppeteer, Michael Sommers. They'll each receive $100,000 spread out over the next three to five years.
I sat down with each of the award winners after the ceremony to talk about what exactly they plan to do with the money. What sets this award apart is that it's given to artists with at least 25 years of working experience. It's a late career boost for people who are, as Defender Wilson said, often viewed as ready to "be put back on the shelf."
Kevin Locke said the money will allow him to document and archive Native American flute music that he's learned over the years from elders. Locke also spends a great deal of his time teaching traditional hoop-dancing to children in schools. He's also concerned with what it means to be a citizen in a global age, and how his own Lakota culture can contribute.
Mary Louise Defender Wilson will use the award to help her continue the work she's already doing, learning bits and pieces of old stories from different tribal elders, and piecing them together. Her work is not just about preserving Dakota heritage, but also about honoring those elders who are often living in poverty and poor health.
Michael Sommers feels a pull to go deeper with his puppetry and theater; to create darker, more intimate work. But he's also interested in creating moments of pure joy. He's just back from China where he performed puppet theater out of a suitcase all over Beijing. At one point he was completely surrounded by children fascinated with what he was doing, pressing in on him and the puppets. Sommers started laughing at the situation. He looked around and saw that the children and the adults standing behind them were all laughing too. Sommers says he wants more of that.
Images courtesy of Ixtlan Artists Group, Preston Wright and Larry Lamb
The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts is taking a unique approach to raising money for its upcoming show, Singin' In the Rain. For anywhere from $10 - $50 you can "sponsor" a prop in the production. Cosmos' gal, a cake, a camera or even the wall - the choice is yours. In return you'll be listed online as an official member of the creative team, and can have the pleasure of pointing to someone's umbrella during the show and saying "hey, that's MY umbrella!" No word on if there's a limit to how many people can sponsor a single prop.
Remember back in 1999 when construction workers moved the old Shubert theater several blocks through downtown Minneapolis in order to save the building from demolition?
After ten years of lobbying and fundraising, last night the folks behind the Shubert Theater got the last $2 million they need to renovate the building. They plan to renovate it into the Minnesota Shubert Performing Arts and Education Center.
So what I want to know is, why did it take so long to fund the project, when the community was willing to go to such extreme lengths to save the building?