Annual Conference offers moving keynote presentations, strong business platform, and striking performances
Spotlight Showcase performance by Eisenhower Dance. Photo by Joshua Feist. For more photos from the event visit Arts Midwest on Flickr.
Arts Midwest welcomed 1,003 artists, managers, agents, presenting venues, and colleagues from arts councils and service organizations to Minneapolis for the annual Arts Midwest Conference from September 17–20.
The high attendance was just one of many things to celebrate about this year’s event, which was filled with rich educational sessions, countless networking opportunities, productive booking conversations, and performances that encouraged us to dance, imagine, laugh, cry, and wonder in the beauty and possibility of the arts.
Highlights included a keynote presentation by Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, co-creators of the Broadway-bound musical Witness Uganda, who inspired us with their incredible drive to jump in and address the challenge of international aid. We also had the pleasure of hearing from Michelle Hensley, founder and artistic director of Twin Cities-based Ten Thousand Things Theatre. Michelle’s passion for bringing the arts to all audiences—which she shared with both candor and humility—reminded us of the potential of the arts to reach across social divides. In all, the two presentations reinforced that whether we are working at the global level or in our own backyard, the arts are uniquely positioned to enact change.
Arts Midwest has been producing the Conference for 27 years, and it is moments like these that demonstrate the importance of bringing our colleagues together to reconnect and reenergize. We are proud of our legacy of supporting the industry and look forward to future opportunities to connect and share with arts leaders within and beyond the Midwest.
Arts Midwest receives more than $700k in support
Arts Midwest is pleased to share that we had a strong first quarter of our fiscal year, securing more than $700,000 in support from foundations, corporations, and government agencies. These generous investments will allow us to continue programs such as ArtsLab and Arts Midwest World Fest, as well as pilot new efforts to strengthen the recognition of arts and culture as essential and valued parts of our lives.
We are incredibly grateful to these investors, who include but are not limited to local and regional supporters: the Bush Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and BNSF Railway. We thank them tremendously for their vision in and commitment to Arts Midwest.
In memoriam: Dennis Holub
Dennis Holub, the retired Executive Director of the South Dakota Arts Council and former Chair of Arts Midwest, passed away suddenly at his home on Friday, August 29. He was 67 years old.
Dennis had a distinguished career in the arts (shown right at the 2011 Conference; photo by Tiffany Rodgers). Among his many accomplishments, he nurtured strong local arts agencies across South Dakota, built productive relationships with the state’s tribal communities, and promoted the region’s and nation’s traditional artists.
In partnership with Arts Midwest, he supported the South Dakota Dance on Tour Program, which ensured that audiences in that state had access to live, high quality dance performances. And he became one of Arts Midwest World Fest’s greatest and most articulate advocates.
Dennis was a kind, intelligent, and gentle soul and we will always remember his sincerity, his understated humor, his joy, and his quiet tenacity. We miss him a great deal.
Nurturing emerging arts leaders in our region
Last year, Arts Midwest piloted a new effort to connect and nurture emerging arts leaders in the Twin Cities. Designed by a core group of Arts Midwest staff and supported by generous contributions to the David J. Fraher Future Leaders’ Fund, this Future Leaders Network program gathered 12 up-and-coming arts administrators from performing, visual, literary, and arts service organizations for peer-led educational workshops around topics such as mentoring, organizational growth, leadership, and community engagement.
Rated highly by participants for its networking support, innovative learning model, and strong emphasis on leadership, the program will return in 2015 for a new group of Twin Cities arts leaders.
About the David J. Fraher Future Leader’s Fund
In January 2009, David Fraher celebrated 25 years as President & CEO of Arts Midwest. Arts Midwest’s Board of Directors, staff, friends, and colleagues established the David J. Fraher Future Leaders’ Fund to honor David’s contributions to and vision for the field. The Fund has been used to support the Future Leaders Network and to provide scholarships for emerging arts administrators to attend the Arts Midwest Conference.
Conference welcomes bright, engaged new leaders
Thanks to the David J. Fraher Future Leaders’ Fund, Arts Midwest continued its legacy of providing scholarships to emerging arts leaders to attend the 2014 Arts Midwest Conference. This year, we welcomed Regina Hanson (St. Paul, Minnesota), Morgan Holmes (Minneapolis, Minnesota), and Becca Grandstrand (Grand Forks, North Dakota) as our scholarship recipients.
During the four-day Conference, these bright and engaged young arts leaders took advantage of educational programs, networking opportunities, and mentoring—gaining hands-on experiences within the industry and building new connections that will help launch their careers.
Now in its sixth year, the Fund has supported seven accomplished young leaders, allowing them to attend the Arts Midwest Conference and benefit from the myriad professional development experiences it affords. These scholarship recipients—Megan Vetsch (2009), Anne O’Brien (2010), Maarten Bout (2010), Jennie Knoebel (2011), Lindsay Hanson (2012), Katy Pease (2013), and Terri Lucas (2013)—have, in turn, used their new skills and knowledge to make an impact on the performing arts field. We are impressed and inspired by these leaders and we look forward to watching them learn, explore, and make a strong impact on the field.
New digital resources, book titles, and more for NEA’s The Big Read
Celebrating 8 years of programming, The Big Read is going strong with grantees offering creative and rich educational programs to their communities. A few new items of note:
- In the 2013–2014 program year, 77 grantee communities purchased 94,751 books to give away to their community members free of charge. Libraries in these communities reported 44,047 circulations of their chosen Big Read book.
- Two new titles have been added to the official Big Read library for 2014–2015 programming, expanding the programming options for new and returning grantees: When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka and The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu.
- The three most popular titles for 2014–2015 program year are Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, and the stories and poems of Edgar Allan Poe.
While The Big Read is just kicking off in communities across the United States, we are already making plans for next year. The 2015–2016 programming application opens in October 2014 with applications due at the end of January 2015. Be sure to save the date and learn more about how you can take advantage of this incredible program at neabigread.org.
The Big Read Reader’s Guides are now available to download on your tablet, smartphone, or e-reader. Visit neabigread.org and access the Books & Guides section of the website to select a title and download the guide.
On the horizon
Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison opens at The Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona on October 25. Featuring presentations by Morrison’s family, curator talks, and celebratory receptions, the museum anticipates a strong opening fitting of Morrison’s legacy. Learn more about these events at heard.org and save the date for the Minnesota installation in February 2015. (At right: Sun and River, 1949, by George Morrison. Watercolor and crayon on paper, 15 × 21 in. From the permanent collection of the Plains Art Museum, Fargo, North Dakota. Museum Purchase.)
Give to the Max Day, Minnesota’s annual celebration of charitable giving is on Thursday November 13. Follow along as we share our staff members’ favorite programming highlights from 2014.
Arts Midwest World Fest is kicking off another year of programming this month, with tours featuring Paulo Padilha and Group from Brazil and Shanren from China. Watch music videos from the musicians, learn more about the nine Midwestern communities we’re visiting this year, and expand your culinary repertoire by visiting our website and blog: artsmidwestworldfest.org
Caravanserai’s fourth season is bringing musicians, a filmmaker, and a shadow puppetry troupe from Malaysia to four communities in the southern United States. Learn more about the diverse traditions and cultures that compose the country of Malaysia and follow along with the tour as these artists make their American debut: caravanserai-arts.org