Tuesday, August 18, 2009
second in an ongoing series of posts that share cool ideas from the across the region
Last week I traveled to Cedar Rapids, IA to work with the Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance on a new strategic plan. As always, I was so impressed with the dedication and commitment of the board and staff to make a strong arts community.
As I drove into Cedar Rapids, I was struck by the fact that nearly all of the brown navigational signs on the highway as you come in to town are for cultural attractions, which is a pretty cool statement about the community and what they value. You know what's even cooler? The Eastern Iowa Airport. Through a unique partnership with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance (ICCA) manages a concierge desk at the airport. So every visitor who gets off a plane in Cedar Rapids can check in for directions, hotel information AND get information and recommendations about all the cultural opportunities that are happening while they are in town. I love this. I love the actual connection it makes between visitors and the arts. And even more than that, I love the statement that it makes - even if a visitor to the area never attends a show or visits a museum, the first thing they see when they arrive is a community that defines itself through its cultural opportunities. Wouldn't it be great if there was a cultural concierge in every airport?
While I was in Cedar Rapids, I also attended the Stars of Tomorrow Talent Competition at Brucemore, a historic mansion, garden and outdoor theater. I had mixed feelings about the competition - one part of me wanted to run up on stage and shield these raw, young artists from the (very supportive and gentle) judgement and another wanted to say, "there's $2,000 at stake, kiddo, you better show us why you deserve it!" There's a 100% chance that I overthink these things.
All my mixed feelings were abandoned, though, in favor of being completely bowled over by Chase Garrett - a 19 year old blues pianist, who was amazing. truly.
This is what its about, folks, great artists that grow in every small town and every big city and the organizations and people who make the space for them to bloom. If only I'd brought Mr. Landesman along.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Healthcare for Artists - A Different Kind of Care
The spotlight on healthcare reform is brighter than ever right now, with not just the well-being of our bodies but the well-being of our economy at stake. Over twenty non-profits are currently calling on Congress to enact legislation that will support insurance options for individual artists. Here in the Twin Cities Dr. Sam Willis is preparing to open the doors on a new health clinic geared toward providing affordable and accessible healthcare for our community of artists and members of the GLBT and allied communities. The clinic operates on a retainer model, limiting the amount of patients see at the clinic to provide more immediate access to care and to cultivate the patient-physician relationship. In other parts of the country, similar healthcare variants are showing that more effective and lower-cost healthcare is possible.
As for the artists and communities in the Twin Cities, Dr. Sam Willis will start seeing patients on Monday, August 17th, 2009 at his new clinic on 1300 Quincy Street Northeast in Minneapolis. Thanks to your feedback, Dr. Sam has developed a medical practice which he hopes will provide affordable and accessible healthcare for our community of artists and members of the GLBT and allied community. The clinic operates on a retainer model, limiting the amount of patients seen at the clinic to provide more immediate access to care and to cultivate the patient-physician relationship.
For more information on the clinic, please see www.doctorsame.us or email email@example.com or call (612) 353-4034 to set up an appointment.
We also invite you to come celebrate the opening of the clinic with this free event integrating art and yoga:
Thursday August 27th 6:30pm
Yoga instructor Helen Simrill and Artist and Yoga Enthusiast Camille Gage of Form + Content Gallery are creating free, spontaneous yoga events integrating art and yoga. The office of Doctor Sam is hosting a Yoga PopUp on August 27th. Space is limited for this event so please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend or are interested in attending. Light food and beverage will be provided.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Stories of the Stimulus - Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center
This is the first of an ongoing series of interviews and case studies we are collecting from arts organizations who are using American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (stimulus) funds to support their mission. If you know of an arts organization, who has accessed ARRA funds please let us know (email@example.com)
The Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center was one of the first Twin Cities arts organizations to apply for ARRA funds outside of the NEA. We asked board member Victoria Lauing to give us some insight into the process (and the paperwork!) that was involved:
How did you find out about the opportunity to use ARRA/stimulus money for this project? Did another agency approach you or did you seek it out?
In May, we were notified of the opportunity to apply for ARRA (CDBG-R) funds by the project coordinator we've been working with at the City of Minneapolis's Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) department, Rebecca Parrell. The City of Minneapolis purchased the building that will be our future home in 2008 and we've worked closely with Rebecca and others in CPED since then. The turnaround time to apply for these funds was quite short and the City focused on projects that, like ours, were already in the pipeline and could get underway quickly with ARRA assistance. A total of 32 projects were considered for these CDBG-R funds, and ours was one of 9 to share in the $3.6 million that the City will receive from HUD.
Describe the project/position you are using the ARRA funds to support?
We were awarded $275,000 to assist with the financing of construction and build-out costs for the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center (CAFAC). CAFAC is a new arts organization devoted to art forms produced by heat, spark, or flame, which include sculptural welding, blacksmithing, foundry, glassworking, jewelry making, and more. We will offer classes, open to anyone with an interest, from youth to adult, and beginners to master-levels artists. Our facility will also contain studios which we'll lease to working and emerging artists, and a gallery space for students' or visiting artists' work. Our building is located at the intersection of 38th and Chicago in South Minneapolis. This gift represents a significant portion of our overall budget and puts us in a position to begin construction this year, with the hope of opening our doors in early 2010.
Was this project/position something you were already going to do or did you create it in order to be eligible for ARRA support?
This project - the acquisition and remodeling of our future home - is one we've been working on actively for two years.
Are you working with another agency or branch of government in order to get the ARRA support?
We've been working with the City of Minneapolis from the outset of this effort, in partnership with Artspace Projects, who will purchase the building, oversee its renovation, and be our future landlord.
Is there extra reporting or other administrative requirements with the ARRA money? Definitely, although we'll be relying on the talented staff at CPED to help us navigate that. One initial requirement that we must meet is ensuring that all subcontractors working on our project are meeting prevailing wage standards as outlined in the Davis-Bacon Act. Additionally, use of CDBG-R funds requires that all construction products are made in the USA.
So, how’s it going?
At this point, we are awaiting a final piece of financing, at which time Artspace and the City can set a closing date. We have continued to fine-tune our renovation plans and will begin construction immediately.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Our project is really a testament to the power of collaboration, and of how the momentum that collaboration brings about can lead to amazing developments, even in challenging times. Our founding board members are all residents of the neighborhood in which CAFAC will be located, who decided to combine our time and talents to bring what we believe will be a fantastic amenity to our community. But without the support of the City of Minneapolis staff, of the City Council, of Artspace, and of countless artists and neighborhood residents, we would not be where we are today. We're incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work with all these people and thrilled to open our doors to the community.