Springboard for the Arts

Funding Received: 2011
St. Paul, MN
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
December 28, 2011

It has been three months since we officially kicked off Irrigate, and we realized it was time for a bit of an update!  You can get more details (and fancy language) at our shiny new website, but here’s a little summary of what we think is most exciting.

Irrigate is a movement!  Yes, in the near-term, it is an initiative to bring artist-led color, fun and delight (placemaking!) to a commercial corridor in Saint Paul that is preparing for a light rail line – but even more, it is about (drum roll please) Artists at the Center of Development.  We see artists as vital contributors to society – not “only” as makers of art, but as Critical Thinkers who bring new perspectives and “out of the box” thinking to issues faced in every sector.  We contend that if you want innovation, then you better get an artist (or two or five) to your table – yesterday!

To this end, we’re training artists in creative placemaking and cross-sector collaboration and seeding their forays in working with community collaborators (local businesses, non-profits, neighborhood groups).  So far we’ve trained 101 artists, and we’re expecting all sorts of interesting ideas to take root in the next few months (yes, during the great Minnesota winter).

Our other strategy is to invest in local permanent resources to retain and attract artists to have a long-term stake and role in the corridor area.  What that means: we want to make it easier for interested artists to root themselves and their work locally.  We’re working on developing a system to help artists find stable housing within their financial means that can also meet their studio needs. So a renter could potentially buy a house and get a low-interest loan to turn the basement into the recording studio of which they’ve always dreamed (with plenty of sound-proofing for the neighbors!).  Or an artist can rent an affordable live-work space half a block from a light rail stop.  We’re also working on how to make it easier for artists to rent commercial space along the corridor.

So that’s the quick 2011 end-of-year update!  We’re feeling good about our progress and appreciating all the artists and organizations that we’ve been able to work with so far.  Can’t wait for what 2012 will bring!

*PS We hope you will join this movement – let’s go global!