Bedlam Lowertown: Arrivals and Departures

Bedlam Theatre

Funding Received: 2013
St. Paul, MN
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
November 13, 2013

Community Outreach and Engagement Coordinator Maya Vilaplana finishing the pop up performance set up of Van Daam at the Saint Paul Art Crawl; photo by Farrington Starnes

Between construction, activity and neighborhood connections, this past month has seen a clear step toward the venue and surrounding activity becoming a viable and distinctive aspect of Lowertown, particularly for its residents. The bi-annual Saint Paul Art Crawl was the first weekend in October, and not only did we open our doors for mid-construction tours, we also shared the space with local artist Alex Kuno, whose exhibit “The Children’s Crusade” occupied our lobby and rear hallway, as well as being on display in his studio and the nearby partner organization Minnesota Museum of American Art Project Space gallery. Additionally some of the artists from our summer music series “Collective Noise” performed in pop up locations around the neighborhood, including the Farmer’s Market, stoops of various lofts, along the sidewalk of our storefront, and strumming a guitar in the back of a Pedi-cab.

Recent Wins
Expanded network of organic connections--living and working in Lowertown--has revealed a strong web of potential partners in progress without having to do any cold calls or e-introductions but instead through attendance and participation at events such as the Saint Paul Fall Art Crawl, Minnesota Museum of America Art lecture series, Hold Tight Record Nights at Kelly’s Depot, and simply running into friends who introduce new friends hanging around the Farmers’ Market on the weekends. Furthermore it was with great pleasure that we were able to see pictures of several of our events in the Saint Paul Almanac, both in the gallery celebrating the release of the 2014 edition but also in the printed book as well, lending credence to the notion that Bedlam is now very much of and about Lowertown Saint Paul.

The neighborhood has recently experienced another surge of attention from the local press, with an article talking about the (paraphrased) “impending gentrification and de-artification” of Lowertown.  It was apropos that this conversation was happening during the biannual Art Crawl, when the neighborhood artists have a higher than average public attention as well as a higher than normal inter-neighborhood contact due to after parties, mixers, and neighborhood-wide events. The very nature of the conversation, pro-active rather than simply woeful or reactive, bodes well for the future of the neighborhood, as we all try to understand how to guide the vision based on Lowertown's legacy and potential.