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'State of the Arts District' forum in Northeast Minneapolis to expand on vibrant arts scene

The Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, which was established to recognize a vibrant local arts scene, took on formal boundaries in 2002 after various community leaders combined forces with the city and the McKnight Foundation.

Since then, the district has taken off, especially in the last couple of years, and many community members want to build on that, according to Susan Wagner Ginter, who chairs the board for the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA).

To do so, it’s taking part in the first-ever “State of the Arts District” forum on April 12 at Chowgirls Parlor, organized by the Northeast Community Development Corporation, the Northeast Chamber of Commerce, and the participating speakers.

The event capitalizes on the fact that, “NEMAA is stronger and the arts district is a reality,” Ginter says.

For example, its annual arts crawl, titled “Art-a-Whirl,” brings 50,000 people to the area, she says, adding that the event's business impact is huge.

The question is, “How do we keep the momentum going and keep a stream of people coming into Northeast and discovering the amazing resource that we have?”

Hopefully the forum will help the community plan its next steps. “It’s about how to integrate the arts into the community and keep it vibrant,” she says.    

At the forum, Josh Blanc, who co-owns Clay Squared to Infinity with his wife, Layl McDill, will talk about their experience with a downtown pop-up art store, which they ran in a vacant space over the winter.

“They took a risk and they did really well selling their artwork,” Wagner says.  

Further, it’s a good example of artists getting out of their studios and into the community, a move that has a lot of potential, she says.

She hopes that the forum will bring together community leaders who’ve been instrumental in setting up the district, along with others who want to get involved.

Source: Susan Wagner Ginter, president, NEMAA board
Writer: Anna Pratt 

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