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Minneapolis: At the Corner of Arts and Justice
It is true what people say, that art can heal. But what if art can do more than that? Above and beyond that old maxim, a platform for the arts can bring a whole community to the table. The Hennepin Theatre Trust is exploring the intersection of public space, social justice, and local creativity as it works to improve the historic Hennepin Theatre District. Surpassing even the most ambitious examples of creative placemaking, the Hennepin Theatre Trust made a journey from “talking the talk” to truly “walking the walk” of community-building through the arts. Making Hennepin Avenue safer and livelier was not only a question of engaging theatre-goers; it was a matter of actively including the voices of local people experiencing homelessness who rely on Hennepin Avenue to be a safe haven. Through this project, HTT began to lift the curtain on who uses public spaces in West Downtown Minneapolis, and why.
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Risks Aren’t Just for Artists (We’re looking to you, Government)
At the end of 18 months of conversation, debate, creation and synthesis, the City of West Hollywood had its cultural plan. Five principles guided The Plan’s recommendations, among them #5: Experimentation. Sharing information from the cultural plan became the opportunity to develop a project new to the City—a data visualization project—in the form of digital media and temporary art installations. Guided by the experience of the City’s Public Art Coordinator Rebecca Ehemann, our call was an open one, requesting qualifications rather than proposals, and providing a fixed commission. Rather than bring on a single artist, we sought out three, ensuring that no stand-alone vision would control the data’s narrative. Artists Maria Lamadrid and Sean Noyce, and artist group YoMeryl were selected. The resulting projects—ArtEverywhere, Dream Cloud, and The City of Creative Delights—were partnerships between the City and the artists that allowed for new ideas to surface and West Hollywood’s public art to reach new altitudes. 
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How to Make a Monument
In the fall of 2017, Mural Arts Philadelphia embarked on our biggest project ever: Monument Lab, a nine-week-long public art and history project challenging Philadelphians to join a citywide conversation about history, memory, and our collective future. Twenty dynamic contemporary artists, selected by curators Paul M. Farber and Ken Lum, created temporary monuments across the city, and four of them were selected as outstanding public art projects by Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network Year in Review. Because these four artworks stem from the same project, it’s easy to draw lines between them. Monument Lab asked us to consider what a monument is, and who gets a say in history. All of the artists answered this question in different visual ways, but their common qualities are clear. All four pieces make clear what is missing, what has gone untold.
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Reflections on a Quarter-Mile Long Public Artwork in Edmonton, Canada
Resonant Progression is a public art commission that was advertised internationally by the City of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and completed in September 2017. The story of the young city of Edmonton is a very interesting one, and the concept involved an important inspiration in reference to the role that Dr. Terwillegar and Dr. Oleskiw had in the bridging of a path and calling for Ukrainian, Polish, and European people to follow to come and live in Edmonton more than 100 years ago. There could have been portraiture, or narratives about their lives, but the sculptures were presented with the simple but more universally accessible idea that what is needed in our era is places to contemplate our relationship to nature—and that these sculptures could be clearly places to view from as much as look at. 
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Mary Mattingly’s “Everything At Once,” part of Experiments in Public Art
What is a decommissioned military trailer carrying a structure erected of charred wood doing in the parking lot of an industrial area of Boulder, Colorado? Everything At Once utilized these repurposed materials, presented through the realm of an art experience, as means for social conversation, collaboration, and social change. As a foray for conversation around funding priorities and positions within the United States, Mattingly created an environment specifically constructed of a decommissioned military trailer used in Afghanistan and charred wood from a U.S. public school that recently closed in Wisconsin. Everything At Once asks, “Can we process complex histories through the transformation of objects and materials in order to collectively imagine other ways of being in the world?”
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Welcome to the 2018 PAN Year in Review Blog Salon!
This year, 49 projects from across the United States and Canada were selected for the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Year in Review. Each year, three jurors review hundreds of applications to highlight up to 50 public art projects that represent the most compelling work for the year. As part of that recognition, we invited the artists and commissioning agencies to submit blogs for this salon, telling us about lessons they learned and giving us a peek at what it takes to develop a successful public art project. This week on ARTSblog, we present you with posts from half a dozen different perspectives, reflecting on anything from the administrative challenges of public art projects, to the artistic thought processes that brought us these amazing works.
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Vet Voices: A Healing Journey into Theatre Arts
Early in 2017, TheatreWorks Florida was interested in a new focus group for their highly successful community outreach program, TheatreCares. Through a quick internet search of “arts,” “health,” and “military,” I fell down a rabbit hole of information that led to an incredible year and a half journey of discovery to combine theatre arts with military veteran health needs. The outcome is our outstanding arts and health in the military program called Vet Voices, which provides veterans an opportunity for positive self-awareness and self-discovery in a creative “safe space” environment and allows veterans affected by war to explore the theatre arts and ultimately find healing through creativity.
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Building Courageous Business/Arts pARTnerships
Earlier this year, I was invited by the Utah Cultural Alliance and Utah Division of Arts and Museums in Salt Lake City for a professional development convening to present on the pARTnership Movement, a campaign by Americans for the Arts to teach business and cultural leaders alike how arts and culture can offer businesses, through pARTnership, a competitive edge. With over 50 executive directors and marketing staff in the room, my aim was to communicate that arts and business pARTnerships can look like so much more than a transactional relationship. I’ve often heard (and experienced as an arts fundraiser), “Why can’t they [the businesses] just give more cash? We need cash.” While the need for cash is real, our approach with the pARTnership Movement is broader.
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Have Your Heard the Buzz About Creative Conversations?
Creative Conversations were launched in 2004 in response to feedback for a need for dialogue from the Emerging Leaders Network. Since then, they have been used as a catalyst in communities across the nation to unify groups of people engaged in arts and culture by sparking dialogue, spurring advocacy efforts, and creating networking opportunities for participants. Most Creative Conversations take place in October as part of National Arts and Humanities Month; however, now they are popping up more frequently at other times of the year. Interested in learning more about these community engagement events, or hosting one in your area? Read on for information and inspiration to help get you started!
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Postcards from America’s Future Arts Leaders: Part 2
For 26 years, the Arts & Business Council of New York has been hosting the DIAL internship program as an investment in a more equitable arts management field. This summer, 12 Diversity in Arts Leadership interns from all over the country are working at arts nonprofits in New York City for ten weeks to explore and build skills in arts administration and leadership. Get to know these up-and-coming arts leaders in a two-part blog series.
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How #my5days at Hallmark is Renewing, Inspiring, and Giving Back
“It was such joy to walk in with a certain set of expectations and walk away accomplishing far more than I even imagined.” This reaction from a designer at Hallmark Cards, Inc. underlines the spirit of a recent initiative that supports the creative culture at the company that has taken a new turn in 2018. Just two years ago, Hallmark created a program that would lead to new ways of thinking, personal inspiration, and growth for more than 800 members of its creative community. Now, it has grown to benefit nonprofit organizations in its local Kansas City community. Hallmark’s #my5days program offers five work days per year for creative employees to renew, explore, learn, and think differently about the world and work around them. 
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