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 Theresa Sweetland, Executive/Artistic Director at Intermedia Arts and asked her to reflect on the biggest risk they’ve taken in Creative CityMaking.
ARTPLACE: What is the biggest risk you've taken in your efforts? How did you get burned, or how did you prevail?
Sweetland: All of us are taking risks at many levels in this project and partnership, but one of the biggest risks is figuring out how to translate our work to our very distinct communities, audiences, and stakeholders. We are still relatively early in the Creative CityMaking program as we are just entering into the phase of the project when artists and planners really start to work together and engage with the community. Intermedia Arts and the City as partners are watching the projects closely to see how the rest of the world interacts with and understands Creative CityMaking.
ARTPLACE: What is it like to be in a partnership with very different audiences and stakeholders?
Sweetland: We have entered into unknown territory since this kind of project is so new to our community and our way of working. As a community-based arts organization, we are accountable not only to the artists that we serve, but also to our neighbors, our board members and funders, our supporters, and our colleagues in the community arts world. The City on the other hand is accountable to City Council and other elected officials, all the stakeholders of the different planning projects including neighborhood groups, county commissioners, private contractors, the planners, and the communities themselves.
ARTPLACE: Do you have shared stakeholders with the City of Minneapolis?
Sweetland: Yes, Intermedia Arts is based in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood of South Minneapolis, and we have a very important shared stakeholder with our partner – the city that we live in! With our gallery, co-working space, and community programs, we are very active in our neighborhood and invested in Minneapolis as our physical and creative home.
ARTPLACE: How do you overcome the challenge of working with such a diverse array of stakeholders across your partnership?
Sweetland: We are constantly communicating with each other. We have weekly staff team meetings and monthly partner meetings that help us understand and work through the different processes, protocols, and systems that help each of us function. Every decision we make takes a lot of time! For example, we recently did a press release to announce the selection of the artists and planning projects, but it took over a month for us to run the release by our various stakeholders before we could share the news with the public. The artists and planners had to be so patient before they could talk about Creative CityMaking. We are glad to be able to openly celebrate the selected planning projects and artists finally!