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$250,000 grant goes to make visible the 'Arts on Chicago'

As a part of the “Arts on Chicago” initiative, 20 creative placemaking projects will happen in the coming year along the Chicago Avenue corridor in South Minneapolis, to help brand the arts district.

Pillsbury House + Theatre, where professional theater and social services have been integrated in recent years, received $250,000 for the project from ArtPlace, a national funding group. Pillsbury is working with a handful of local partners on the project. 

Nearly $1 million in ArtPlace grants is going to a handful of projects along these lines in Minneapolis, according to project information.

Alan Berks, a spokesperson for Pillsbury, says, “For us, it’s very much what we’ve been doing for years, using creativity and the artists within the neighborhoods to inspire and instigate connections and change."

At the same time, the area has seen a lot of momentum around the arts in recent years. "Chicago Avenue runs through one of the poorest neighborhoods in the Minneapolis metro area, and has seen new investment in the past year by a handful of arts groups," a prepared statement about the project reads. 

Soon, Pillsbury will be sending out its first call for artists to take on these placemaking projects, which ultimately will unfold over the course of a year.

Individual projects will likely take many forms. “We’re asking artists to be creative. We’re not saying we want 20 murals,” he says.  

For example, it could mean wrapping area utility boxes with decorative coverings, projecting images onto exterior walls of local buildings, or hosting a performances at nontraditional yet “natural amphitheaters,” or other outdoor gathering places.

Projects should be sustainable, high-quality, and continue branding the area as an arts district, Berks says.

“It’s an opportunity to ask artists to contribute their knowledge and skills to improve the neighborhood they live in,” he says, adding that artists are good at bringing people together.

They have “so much knowledge about communities and social networks,” he says.  

In a diverse area, “This is a great way of strengthening connections between people,” he adds. 

Pillsbury is also working on a similar project, called Curb Culture, which will place artistic sandwich boards curbside in front of businesses throughout the neighborhood.

Although the Powderhorn area has long been an arts hub, “It’s not always reflected in our corridor,” he says, adding that this project is an effort to “to knit together these creative aspects” in a more intentional way.

Source: Alan Berks, spokesperson, Pillsbury House + Theatre
Writer: Anna Pratt
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