We lived in Minneapolis in the late 1990s and thought the theater scene there was super — many small, under-the-radar groups taking on adventurous work.
We also enjoyed going to music and art events, especially open houses in the former Warehouse District, where some of the Twin Cities’ best restaurants had sprung up.
So we weren’t surprised to learn that a national effort to tackle rundown areas in a way that benefits both local economies and artists emanates from Minneapolis.
Emily Badger writes about Artspace in Fast Company.
“The city of Minneapolis’ arts commission founded Artspace in 1979 to help connect local artists to affordable space in the city’s warehouse district. But the same artists kept coming back, priced out of their homes and studios, in need of yet another space. When [Kelley] Lindquist took over a decade later, the local arts community began to focus instead on the only permanent solution: They needed to control the buildings. Since then, Artspace has completed 30 live/work developments in 21 U.S. cities, with two more opening this fall, two more under construction, and another dozen in the pipeline.
“Lindquist recalls that in the ’80s, four other organizations — in Seattle, San Francisco, Washington and New York — were toying with a concept similar to Artspace’s (at the time, the five had been given a grant by the Apple Foundation to network with each other). Artspace is the only one of those original five that has survived to this day.
“ ‘I do honestly think that there is a prairie spirit here,’ Lindquist says, laughing. He sometimes thinks about why this idea got off the ground in Minnesota when it didn’t elsewhere. ‘Living in Minnesota is pretty rough,’ he says. ‘There can be easily six months of the year that would seem pretty hard to live in and intolerable to a lot of people. But I think it forced those of us here to try harder, and to be a little more experimental, a little more risk-taking on how do we keep our culture vibrant?’ ” Read more.
By the way, this lead came from ArtsJournal.com, a reliable source of bloggy inspiration.
Photograph: Warehouse Entertainment District