Home News & Events Quarterly Newsletter Quarterly Newsletter - October 23, 2012

Quarterly Newsletter - October 23, 2012

We are excited to share the following updates on our programs and events.

Exciting updates from Arts Midwest

We are pleased to announce that we recently received good news about Caravanserai: A place where cultures meet. The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art has renewed their $1 million commitment to the program, allowing us to bring these incredible experiences to new communities across the United States in the 2013–2014 and 2014–2015 performance seasons.

We’re also proud to share that we were voted one of the “50 Best Nonprofits to Work For” by the Nonprofit Times for a third time, and we were also recently named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, for the fifth time. We’re honored to receive these awards and to work in such a creative environment.

Moroccan artists find shared connections in Caravanserai communities

The 2012–2013 season of Caravanserai: A place where cultures meet is bringing artists from Morocco to the United States. The Majid Bekkas Gnawa Ensemble and Brahim Fribgane recently began their Caravanserai tour, and are traveling to four communities this fall: Grand Rapids, Minnesota; Jamestown, North Dakota; Fayetteville, Arkansas; and Nashville, Tennessee.

While the musicians have made many great connections in our communities, they were particularly moved by an experience in Grand Rapids High School, where they met with students who are members of the local Ojibwe community. During this exchange, the ensemble and students found that their cultures shared many of the same elements; for example, the Moroccans’ clothing was decorated with cowrie shells, which are also used in Native American clothing. When a student commented on how both cultures share an appreciation for the shells, the artists explained that the Atlantic Ocean unites the two cultures more than it separates them.

Later in the presentation, the students taught the musicians to say Miis geget, the word for ‘welcome’ in the Anishinaabe language, and the Moroccans taught the students to say chokran, the Arabic word for ‘thank you.’

Learn more at www.caravanserai-arts.org.


Majid Bekkas (far left), Sidi Abdelfattah El Houssaini (second from right), and Brahim Fribgane (far right) with Native American students in Grand Rapids, MN. Photo by Lindajoy Fenley.

Midwest Arts Conference enables artists to make a practical, sustainable living

The 2012 Midwest Arts Conference was a huge success! More than 900 performing arts professionals from across the United States, Canada, France, Germany, and Ireland came together in Grand Rapids, Michigan from September 12–15, 2012, for four days of networking, professional development, and performances. While our attendees are diverse in artistic focus and audience, they all remain committed to ensuring the Midwest has access to high-quality arts experiences.

What happens at the Midwest Arts Conference?

  • Russell Willis Taylor, President and CEO of National Arts Strategies, delivered the Keynote Address, Why the Arts Matter Now: Meaning before Markets. The presentation challenged attendees to think about their own unique value, and how to seize new opportunities to connect with audiences. The speech is available online at www.artsmidwest.org.
  • Live performances abounded with more than 200 showcases this year, offering hundreds of artists the opportunity to be seen and offering presenters a chance to see a wide variety of work.
  • Our professional development offerings featured 43 seminars, workshops, consultations, and meetings—providing attendees ample opportunities to learn about fundraising, marketing, audience engagement, and new trends in driving ticket sales.
  • ArtPrize, the world’s largest public art competition, featured 1,517 entries that were being installed in venues across the city during our Conference. Attendees had the opportunity to see this event come to life and to hear from creator, Rick DeVos, who provided closing remarks on increasing creativity through cultural engagement.

Arts Midwest rocks for so many reasons it’s ridiculous. I’ve gotten more out of the last three days than I could have in years and years of research and cold calls.
Anyone who is thinking of going to this should and I’d be happy to talk to anyone about my experiences. You can absolutely make a living with your art and this conference makes that a practical and sustainable reality.
— Seth Lepore, Midwest Arts Conference Attendee

We’re already looking forward to next year’s Conference, which will be held in Austin, Texas from September 9–12, 2013.

One big change next year will be the name; starting with the 2013 event, it will now be called the Arts Midwest Conference. This shift will help our attendees connect with even more Arts Midwest programming.

Learn more and view photos of this year’s conference at www.artsmidwest.org/programs/conference.

Midwestern communities welcome ensemble from Bali, Indonesia

Çudamani, from Bali, Indonesia, has just wrapped up their first tour as part of the 2011–2013 Arts Midwest World Fest program. The first stop on the ensemble’s tour was Hill City, South Dakota, where the week-long residency was a tremendous success. The group conducted educational workshops for elementary, middle, and high school students and ended the week with a standing-room-only public concert at Hill City High School.

Çudamani’s tour then went on to Devils Lake, North Dakota, where the group marched in the Devils Lake High School homecoming parade—a first for this community of 7,000. After visiting North Dakota, the ensemble travelled to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota and Wausau, Wisconsin for another successful set of workshops and performances.

“[Çudamani] has given us a glimpse of the other side of the world and more evidence of our shared soul…. [When they left], it was like saying
good-bye to family.”
— Jan Johnson, Hill City, South Dakota

While Cudamani’s first residency just ended, the Pakistani group Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers has recently arrived in Red Oak, Iowa, to begin their first tour. Over the next few weeks, they will visit Red Oak and Ames, Iowa; Charleston, Illinois; Saugatuck, Grand Rapids, and Muskegon, Michigan; Wabash and Hartford City, Indiana; and Elyria, Ohio.

Learn more at www.artsmidwestworldfest.org.


Çudamani members march in the Devils Lake High School homecoming parade in Devils Lake, ND. Photo by Philip Graulty.

ArtsLab offers leadership development to artists and arts organizations

The opening retreat for ArtsLab’s two-year leadership development program was held in late September in Chaska, Minnesota. The highly successful weekend of team-building and learning provided many thoughtful conversations about the role of the arts in strengthening our communities.

Over the coming two years, ArtsLab will support these organizations through weekend retreats, monthly webinars, and mentorship. We are also working with nationally-recognized industry leaders to develop and share a specialized curriculum on topics such as organizational and financial management, fundraising, and communications.

Interested in being a part of the discussion but aren’t involved in the two-year program? Join us on December 13, 2012 for a day-long seminar in St. Paul, Minnesota on creativity and how the arts industry can thrive now and in the future. Learn more and register for this event at artslab.artsmidwest.org.

American quilts tour throughout China with The Sum of Many Parts

In 2012, Arts Midwest partnered with South Arts to present some of our nation’s greatest quiltmakers to international audiences.

The resulting exhibition, The Sum of Many Parts: 25 Quiltmakers from 21st-Century America, showcases the work of a contemporary American artist from each state in Arts Midwest’s and South Arts’ regions, as well as the state of Hawaii.

Over the course of 2012–2014, these extraordinary examples of America’s diverse quilting traditions will tour to five cities across China: Shanghai, Kunming, Nanning, Changsha, and Dalian. The exhibition will offer Chinese audiences multiple opportunities to connect with the American artists and their works, including presentations and lectures by the featured quilters and symposia with textile experts.

Star Quilt, right, by Patricia Renault Stuen of Wahpeton, North Dakota (photo by Mike Jensen), is just one of the quilts included in the exhibition. View a full slideshow of the quilts on Flickr.

Shakespeare in American Communities awards more than $1 million

This July, Arts Midwest announced more than $1 million in grants to 42 nonprofit, professional theater companies to perform plays by William Shakespeare for students through Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program managed by Arts Midwest in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

In the program’s ten-year history, Shakespeare in American Communities has reached more than 1.9 million students with live performances and educational activities.

Over the course of the performance season, each of the participating theater companies will visit at least 10 schools to present Shakespeare plays for students and conduct in-school residencies, workshops, and post-performance discussions. This residency-based programming helps encourage the next generation of audiences to attend and appreciate live theater, and improves access to the arts for underserved communities.

“When I was introduced to Shakespeare in American Communities more than 10 years ago, I recognized its potential, given how important Shakespeare’s work was to me when I first began acting.
However, I couldn’t have anticipated the incredible, widespread impact it’s had on students across the country. I commend the NEA and the participating theaters for their commitment to sharing Shakespeare’s legacy with future generations.”
— Actor Tom Hanks, featured in the program’s educational film Why Shakespeare?

Learn more about the program’s 10-year history at www.shakespeareinamericancommunities.org.