There are few things I find more exciting than returning to somewhere I have visited before. No longer a stranger struggling to navigate unfamiliar streets, I can instead expand upon my understanding of place. When the opportunity arose to intern this summer with the Consulting and Strategic Partnerships department of Artspace (following in the footsteps of recent alumni Jessie Wright and Jaron Bernstein), I knew this was my chance to see what Minneapolis and St. Paul had to offer.
For this reason, my summer in Minneapolis thus far has been a dream. Although I have never lived outside of Southeast Wisconsin (something I reflect upon often, but especially when I returned to UW for a second degree), the Twin Cities have been a constant in my life thanks to many visits to see a best friend, and even more so, my aunt and uncle. When I started to express real interest in working in the arts in high school, I heard about countless Guthrie Theater productions, the famous music scene, and amazing community support of all artistic endeavors.
Living here has been even better. My time at Artspace has given me exposure to the world of consulting, as I have participated in all steps of the relationship Artspace establishes when working with a community. This includes online research for scopes of work/requests for proposals, preparing presentations for public meetings, and testing surveys which are used to determine the local market demand for a project. In August, I will be able to join staff as they visit a local community for a preliminary feasibility study. My summer-long project involves gathering information on all 223 communities that Artspace has helped through consulting services since 2004, to see if suggestions have been enacted.
In addition to the work with Artspace since May, I have been a voracious consumer of local culture. I saw my first opera – Fellow Travelers at Minnesota Opera – which was a treat as I was unable to see a production in New York City while there for the annual Bolz trip to the APAP conference. I made a return trip to Midtown Global Market, which we visited as a class in September for another delicious meal, and to witness Ten Thousand Things bring it’s unique style of theater to audiences and not vice versa. Most memorably, I attended the final public event of the sunsetting Patrick’s Cabaret, their FUNeral, which yes, as noted on their website, is “like a funeral, but FUNNER!”
All these experiences have been bolstered by my exposure to Artspace and their commitment to do what is best for each individual community with which they work. The arts are most successful when local, and speaking to the needs, hopes, and desires of their own community. Although I am only a temporary resident of the Twin Cities, it has been incredibly moving to see how creative individuals are working to tackle problems such as representation and racial inequities. I am filled with hope for the future and excited to return to Madison this fall with new ideas about arts-supportive policies and an energized spirit.