An exciting new collaboration between Vibrant & Safe Downtown and Minnesota Fringe will culminate in public, weekday outdoor performances during summer 2019 on Nicollet under the new Nimbus sculpture in front of the Minneapolis Central Library. The sculpture, created by artist Tristan Al-Haddad, was commissioned by the City of Minneapolis as an extension of the Nicollet redesign, and is scheduled to be installed by November.
For the new program, dubbed Beyond the Box, Vibrant & Safe Downtown (V&S) and Minnesota Fringe (Fringe) will incubate four artists/companies by facilitating Mentee/Mentor relationships and providing support to develop skills for public performance in non-traditional theater spaces. Performances will be free, open to the public, and take place May–August, 2019. Each artist/company will receive a performance fee, rehearsal space, and meeting/administrative workspace. The collaboration will inject a spark of vitality and opportunities for convergence along Nicollet. Beyond the Box will also spur artistic development and speak to an alternative solution for performers than traditional theaters.
Mentor artists will be selected by jury using a rubric considering artistic intent, inclusion, style, aesthetic, feasibility, and their previous record of teaching and mentorship of fellow artists. Jurors include: Chitra Vairavan, Forecast Public Art & Independent Dancer/Choreographer; Flordelino Lagundino, Park Square Theatre, Joan Vorderbruggen, Hennepin Theatre Trust; Jonathan van Areman, Independent Artist, and Fringe’s Artistic Director Jay Gilman. Artists interested in mentoring can find out more details and apply at minnesotafringe.org/beyondthebox. Once chosen, Mentors will work with Fringe’s Artistic Director to pick mentees from applications set to open in December.
Vibrant & Safe Downtown is a subsidiary of the Mpls Downtown Improvement District with a directive to bring public and private sectors together to create welcoming, comfortable and safe spaces downtown. V&S has a history of partnering with arts organizations to animate public spaces, including Street Show, which brought more than 600 hours of street performance to downtown in 2018, and a unique collaboration with Kulture Klub Collaborative for Pianos on Parade in 2017. Minnesota Fringe is a field leader working with over 1,000 performing artists per year to execute its flagship program the annual Fringe Festival. With the influx of new leadership, Fringe has recently launched year-round programming; expanding opportunities for artists of all experience levels to create novel ways of engaging with audiences through the arts.
A collaboration between the two organizations was bandied about for nearly a year before the right project was identified and funding secured.
“The arts are a key ingredient for downtown vibrancy. We’ve got this extensive public art collection on Nicollet, and partners like Hennepin Theatre Trust who have done amazing work to raise up visual arts and artists in downtown spaces,” states Director of Nicollet Activation, Lisa Middag. “But performing arts in public spaces is an even greater challenge and has the potential for as much if not more impact—when audiences share in the transformation of public space that site-responsive, artist-centric performance creates, then the barriers really come down.”
Minnesota Fringe Executive Director Dawn Bentley agrees, “Fringe is excited to partner with V&S to nurture artists at the intersection of the performing arts and community building downtown.” The inaugural year of this program is funded in part through a grant from the Minneapolis Regional Arts Council. Both V&S and Fringe are hopeful the program will continue beyond summer 2019.