Springboard for the Arts

Funding Received: 2011
St. Paul, MN
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
July 11, 2012

Irrigate is an artist-led creative placemaking initiative spanning the six miles of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (CCLRT) line in Saint Paul, Minnesota during the years of its construction. This is a unique opportunity that brings together huge infrastructure development, a high concentration of resident artists on both ends of the corridor, a diverse ethnic and cultural mix among the neighborhoods, and a city with a strong track record of artist community engagement. This artist-led community and economic development approach emphasizes cross-sector collaboration with local private and non-profit sectors. By mobilizing artists to engage in their community, Irrigate will change the landscape of the CCLRT neighborhoods with color, art, surprise, creativity and fun. Irrigate is a partnership between the City of Saint Paul, Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Springboard for the Arts.

One Irrigate strategy is training and supporting local artists to implement creative placemaking along the light rail line in collaboration with community partners - businesses, non-profits and neighborhood groups. After artists attend our free one-day placemaking workshop that explores placemaking and collaboration skills, they become eligible for support for a "Corridor Collaboration." To date, we've trained 259 artists at 12 workshops, and have approved of 37 Corridor Collaborations involving 55 artists. We're expecting this pace will continue throughout this year. You can see a map of all the collaborations and upcoming events on the Irrigate website.

For this month’s blog post, we decided to ask Irrigate artists directly: What will be different in your community as a result of your work?

Here is what they said:

Businesses experience economic impact of arts
Artist Tyler Olsen’s HAPPY CABARET
brought a family-friendly collection of song, dance, comedy, live karaoke (and Tyler’s boundless energy) to Mai Village,
a Vietnamese restaurant on University Ave, that was feeling the ill effects of light rail construction. Tyler states:

I think the main community change that my project, HAPPY CABARET, instigated was the idea that "Oh, yeah - the arts DO bring money in!" With over one hundred paying customers eating and drinking, HAPPY CABARET created real economic impact on Mai Village. While I'm not the biggest fan of gauging the success of an artistic endeavor solely by its economic impact, for a business, it is the primary gauge of success. My hope is that the great success of the project will ripple through the tight-knit community in that neighborhood, and make more business owners willing to partner and collaborate with other artists. Just yesterday, I bumped into the owner of Mai Village, where we performed, and the first words out of her mouth were "When are you doing another one?" That's pretty awesome change to me!

Community sees care and trust
Artists Steve Bougie and Richard Fuller created a stained glass mosaic in a chain-link fence along University Ave. The design was meant to reference people and the paddlewheel river boats of the 19th century that plied the Mississippi. They unveiled it at an event where Richard read a poem to dedicate their effort and intention. Steve says:

Public art has a sacramental nature, an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace. People walking, biking or driving by our mosaic will know that there are artists who care about their community who did this, artists who trust their community to put their art in the midst of the community. We feel better about our community when we recognize other people care about the place we live, and it becomes a place we want to live.

Shared sense of history
Artists Heather Barringer, percussionist, Viv Corringham, composer/vocalist and photographer Hannah Barringer Kenny will be creating a sound installation for the Northwestern Building in Lowertown. Sounding our Space will take the form of an electronic musical piece featuring percussion and vocal improvisation, interviews with tenants, and still images. Heather says:

We think our project will give tenants and visitors to our building new insight into the character of our building which has been shaped over the decades by the people dwelling and working inside as well as the rise and fall of fortunes of the city outside. More than just bricks and mortar, our building is an ecosystem in which people grow and thrive. Our project will help those in our building see the Northwestern and everyone working in it as part of a community of people that shape the history of our city.

Bougie_1-3 Unveiling event for Paddlewheel Peoplewheel

Happy_1 Tyler Olsen’s event