Home News & Events Quarterly Newsletter News & Events Quarterly Newsletter - April 1, 2013

Quarterly Newsletter - April 1, 2013

Exciting updates from Arts Midwest

Arts Midwest was recently named one of the “Best Nonprofits to Work For” by The Nonprofit Times! This recognition marks the fourth time that we have received this honor and we feel incredibly fortunate to work in such a creative environment with committed staff, audiences, and supporters.

ArtsLab retreat highlights leadership development

ArtsLab is now five months into the current cycle of its strategy and leadership development program for 15 arts organizations across Minnesota and North Dakota. Even in this short time, many of the participating organizations report breakthrough thinking and new approaches to address their leadership and management challenges. 

It is such a significant opportunity to have access to the breadth of experience and deep wisdom found in session presenters and our peers in the program… the ArtsLab team and funders have given us a very precious gift.
— Vicki Chepulis, board member, New York Mills Regional Cultural Center

Individuals sitting around a table for a discussion
A discussion at the January Peer Learning Community retreat. Photo by Angie Keeton.

Most recently, our participating organizations gathered at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts from January 25–26 for a weekend retreat. Internationally-renowned photographer Wing Young Huie presented his “Chalk Talk” workshop at the beginning of the event—inviting an open, yet highly personal dialogue around race and culture.

The ensuing workshops and discussions focused on personal and team leadership development and drew on the expertise of Mai Moua, president of Leadership Paradigms, to explore individual working styles and team building techniques.

The retreat was extremely well-received, as evidenced by participant feedback:

“So much of this is transformative… through this discussion we will empower ourselves, each other, and the organization.”

Caravanserai brings Moroccan culture to U.S. communities

“Is that actress in Morocco? She’s dressed in very Western fashion and doesn’t look Moroccan to me.”

“Yes, she is—you’d be surprised,” responded Moroccan-American filmmaker Hakim Belabbes, kicking off three days of Caravanserai discussions in Grand Rapids, Minnesota in February.

Hosted by the Myles Reif Performing Arts Center, Hakim shared his reflections on the culture, government, food, and religion of his homeland.

But each activity quickly became much more than simply describing the rich diversity of Moroccan culture. It became an opportunity to learn about others through personal stories.

When the barriers are broken we’re left with our own humanity and the sheer fact of seeing each other through the prism of our own humanity. And that is exactly what happened in [Grand Rapids].
— Hakim Belabbes

Hakim is a true storyteller. An explanation about his filmmaking process would feature a childhood neighbor, whose delicious soup caused lines of people to form outside her house each day, but whose coveted recipe was always improvised. Hakim would draw laughs from a crowd by saying that he became interested in film because he wanted to be George Clooney. Moments later he would share anecdotes so personal—about the death of his father, or the birth of his daughters—that made his audience understand him as a person, beyond labels of “Moroccan” or “Muslim,” “African,” or “American.”

Hakim Belabbes in Grand Rapids
Hakim Belabbes is interviewed for Itasca Community Television by David Marty, Executive Director of the Myles Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids, MN. Photo by Stephen Manuszak.

Now based in Chicago, Hakim captures many personal moments in his films. A Nest in the Heat includes moving conversations with Hakim’s family and parents, where he worries about leaving them behind—and his parents leaving him behind as they grow older. Whispers uses the streets of his hometown as a set, drawing on a deep personal history and familiarity with the setting. His stories are both joyful and distressing, heartbreaking and beautiful; and they are always full of depth complexity that can be difficult to watch, but very likely more difficult to share.

After leaving Grand Rapids, Hakim toured to Fayetteville, Arkansas in February, and then to Honolulu, where he conducted a special residency in March at Shangri La, the former home of Caravanserai founding funder Doris Duke, which is now a center for the study of Islamic arts and cultures. He concluded his tour in Nashville, Tennessee.

New Featured Resource

Ben Cameron at the podiumOver the course four years, Arts Learning Xchange, a learning initiative for Minneapolis/St. Paul arts organizations, presented 11 free forums and workshops on arts participation and audience engagement featuring local, national, and international speakers. These events reached hundreds of arts organizations in the Twin Cities and offered essential training on topics such as marketing, audience engagement, technology, and program evaluation.

Arts Midwest has now launched an online Arts Learning Xchange resource, where visitors can access the many keynote presentations, videos, and tools that emerged from this program. To find these resources, visit the Arts Learning Xchange website.

Photo of Ben Cameron at the Symposium on Audience Engagement by Joshua Feist.

Arts Midwest World Fest 2013–2015 season announced

With the final tours of the 2011–13 cycle of Arts Midwest World Fest underway, we are already busy planning the 2013–2015 season. We are pleased to partner with nine new communities.

Arts Midwest World Fest communities

The ensembles for the first year of the tour have also been selected—Baladino joins us from Israel and Le Vent du Nord joins us from Québec. Baladino is an exciting new collaboration of world-class musicians whose music represents the diversity of their home country, including the Ladino music of the Sephardic Jews. Le Vent du Nord is a Juno-winning ensemble whose music is influenced by Québécois traditions and contemporary styles, and is renowned for performing voyageur music, a French-Canadian storytelling tradition.

In the second year, Shangri-la, from China, and Paulo Padilha and Friends, from Brazil will tour to our communities. Watch videos and hear music from these ensembles at www.artsmidwestworldfest.org.

Le Vent du Nord
Baladino (top) and Le Vent du Nord will tour for Arts Midwest World Fest from 2013–2015. Photos courtesy of the ensembles.

Sum of Many Parts quiltmaker visits China

Carole Harris, a quiltmaker from Detroit, Michigan, whose work is featured in The Sum of Many Parts: 25 Quiltmakers from 21st-Century America, recently conducted residency activities for the exhibition in Nanning, China. There, she connected with quilters, weavers, students, and curators to demonstrate her work and learn from their traditions. Following the exchange, Harris wrote:

I have been making quilt art for over 45 years, from my first interpretation of the pinwheel pattern to the complex improvisational works I make today. I have worked as an interior designer, also for over 45 years. My work as a designer informs much of my art work, as does my environment, my African-American heritage and my love of music. It is an honor to have been selected to be a part of [The Sum of Many Parts]. I’m sure inclusion in this groundbreaking exhibition will elevate my status among the art and art quilt community.

Traveling to Nanning, China as a representative of quilters and of the United States was an even higher honor and an exercise in cultural exchange…while everyone I encountered in China was eager to learn all they could from me about the US, everyone here at home has been equally eager to hear all about China.

[This experience] has already changed the way I look at my work… I am and will be searching for ways to innovate more and more… I’m sure the sights, sounds and tastes experienced in Nanning will resonate with me for many years and I hope that my visit added a little more depth to the Chinese knowledge of Americans in general and American quilters in particular.

Carole Harris in Nanning
Carole Harris signs autographs in Nanning, China. Photo by Raymond Li, U.S. Consulate Guangzhou.

On the horizon

We are excited for all the upcoming programs and events that Arts Midwest will be offering this spring.

  • The application deadline for the 2013–2014 Arts Midwest Touring Fund season is April 4, 2013.
  • This spring, partner communities will host residencies with new Arts Midwest World Fest and Caravanserai musicians.
  • The 2013 Arts Midwest Conference will be held in Austin, Texas from September 9–12. Registration will open in May.
  • On April 28, 2013, The Sum of Many Parts will open at the Wuhan Museum in Wuhan, Hunan Province, China.
  • The next ArtsLab Peer Learning Community retreat will be held May 3–4 at St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison opens at the Plains Art Museum, Fargo, North Dakota, in June 2013.

Your contribution to Arts Midwest helps us to provide enriching cultural opportunities to artists, arts organizations, and audiences—fostering and sustaining vibrant, diverse communities throughout the Midwest.

Arts Midwest is a role model for using vision, creativity, collaboration, and education in a complex, changing world and for thinking beyond today to benefit all people in their creative lives.  I am honored to be a donor.
— Emily Maltz, board member and donor

Please consider making a donation today, or setting up a recurring monthly gift online. Thank you for your support!