INTERMEDIA_JULY

Creative CityMaking is a project that brings artists and Minneapolis City planners together for year-long collaborations, with the goal of providing both with new tools for working with diverse communities. The project also strives to engage artists in critical thinking and art making around important City and urban issues.

Artplace spoke with Gulgun Kayim, Director of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy for the City of Minneapolis.

ARTPLACE: Who outside your organization has been key to your ability to move your initiative forward?

Kayim: I am speaking from the point of view as a staff at City of Minneapolis, the partnering organization for the Creative Placemaking project. For me, the obvious answer to this question is Intermedia Arts and its Executive/Artistic Director Theresa Sweetland. Without Theresa’s tolerance, patience and openness this partnership would not have functioned as well as it has. Our process has been one of discovery and exploration into entirely new territory for both organizations. Not only are we exploring the differences of perspective between a risk averse public entity and an adventurous community based arts non-profit; but we are also learning how two very different departments and cultures within the City enterprise itself can work across departmental silos, communicate and cooperate effectively to build a challenging new program. Bearing this in mind, it really is important to recognize that everyone involved in this project from City through to community partner has been key to its success. Every step of the way we have relied on the good will and far sightedness of key decision makers in the planning department, the City Coordinator’s office, and the board and staff of Intermedia to embrace the challenge, potential and risks inherent in this project.

ARTPLACE: Are there secrets to good partnerships?

Kayim: Key to our process has been the development of a partnership agreement. This is a non-legal document that identifies in detail the work to be done on the program, the division of that labor, the lines of authority, methods for communication and conflict resolution. This document reflects the backbone of our partnership conversations, as it calls out the technical work that needs to be done, but also allows for the group to have more philosophical discussions on the nature of our relationship. What I have found through working with this document is that face to face regular communication is very important to developing effective partnerships. Without this communication it is very hard to build trust and without trust it is very difficult to develop a new initiative and move it forward.

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