Monday, March 29, 2010

230 metro area arts grants total $1.49 million for 2010

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, based in St. Paul, announced the award in March of 65 grants totaling $293,780 in the second round of its 2010 Community Arts grant program. The announcement raised to 230 the number of grants made in fiscal year 2010, totaling $1,491,599. Earlier announcements named grantees in the Community Arts (1st round), Creative Intersection, Arts Activity Support, Organizational Development, and Capital Grants programs.

Year-to-date grants exceed the $1,007,491 total for all of fiscal year 2009. MRAC makes grants to organizations with budgets less than $300,000 located in the seven metropolitan counties of greater Minneapolis and St. Paul. MRAC operates on a fiscal year of July 1 to June 30, and receives its grant funds from the Minnesota State Legislature, the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and the McKnight Foundation.

Community Arts grants to 65 organizations or programs in March totaled $293,780, an average of $4,520 each:

Anoka County: Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, $3,500; Blaine Parks and Recreation, $3,000; Fridley Community Theatre, $5,000; Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health and Well Being, $4,798.

Carver County: Centre Stage Theatre and Arts, $5,000; ISD 108 Community Education, $5,000; Nordic Heritage Club, $1,930; Watertown Area Fine Arts Council, $5,000; Watertown-Mayer Community Education, $5,000.

Dakota County: Chameleon Theatre Circle, $5,000; Dakota County Sheriff's Office, $4,560; DanceWorks Repertory Ensemble, $5,000; Eagan Parks and Recreation, $5,000; Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau, $5,000; Minnesota Brass, Inc., $5,000.
Hennepin County: Aldrich Arts Collaborative, $2,910; Brazen Theatre Company, $5,000; Carnaval Brasileiro, $5,000; Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis, $5,000; Copper Street Brass Quintet, $2,500; Eclectic Ensemble, $1,545; Flower Shop Project, $5,000; Hauser Dance, $5,000; Hope Community, Inc., $4,000; I'm Telling Productions, $5,000; Northside Arts Collective, $5,000; Obsidian Arts, $5,000; Peace Day Lantern Ceremony, $5,000; Rainbow Rumpus, $5,000; Redeemer Center for Life, $4,722; Refuge, $4,000; Screenwriters' Workshop, $3,000; Strange Capers, $5,000; Urban Spectrum Theatre, $3,550; Weaver's Guild of Minnesota, $5,000; West Bank School of Music, $3,500.
Ramsey County: Center for Irish Music, $5,000; Hmong Cultural Center, Inc., $5,000; Lidia Productions, $5,000; Maggie Bergeron and Company, $5,000; New Native Theatre, $4,000; North Star Chorus, $5,000; People, Inc., $5,000; Sample Night Live!, $5,000; StoryBlend, $5,000; The Minnesota Feis, Inc., $4,540; Walker West Music Academy, $5,000; West Side Theater Project, $5,000; Women's Initiative for Self-Empowerment, $5,000; Young Artists Initiative, $4,500.
Scott County: Hymnus, Incorporated, $5,000; Savage Arts Council, $4,000.
Suburban Hennepin County: 4 Community Theatre, $5,000; Discovery Arts Council, $2,725; Les Jolies Petites School of Dance, $5,000; Minnesota Sunshine Dance, $5,000; Westonka Community Education and Services, $3,000.
Suburban Ramsey County: Rosetown Playhouse, $5,000.
Washington County: Forest Lake Park Board, $5,000; Masquers Theatre Company, $5,000; Music Saint Croix, $5,000; St. Croix Valley Chamber Chorale, $5,000; Stillwater Area Public Schools Community Education, $5,000; Washington County 4-H Federation, $5,000; Washington County Agricultural Society, $3,500.

Within its guidelines, MRAC permits organizations to receive more than one project grant in a fiscal year. Of the 230 grants made through March, 19 organizations have been awarded grants for two projects and two organizations have been awarded grants for three.

Organizations receiving two project grants in 2010 include the following (C=Capital, CA=Community Arts, OD=Organizational Development):
Ashland Productions ($10,000 C; $10,000 CA); Caponi Art Park ($10,000 C; $10,000 CA);  Continental Ballet Company ($4,697 C; $5,000 CA); Dakota Valley Symphony ($8,480 C; $5,000 CA); East Side Arts Council ($6,080 C; $10,000 CA); Frank Theatre ($10,000 CA; $10,000 OD); JazzMN, Inc. ($10,000 CA; $3,840 OD); Masquers Theatre Company ($8,905 C; $5,000 CA); Minnesota Freedom Band ($9,038 C; $2,500 CA); Music Saint Croix ($1,163 C; $5,000 CA); Off-Leash Area ($10,000 CA; $5,000 OD); Open Eye Figure Theatre ($10,000 CA; $10,000 OD); Plymouth Christian Youth Center ($10,000 CA; $10,000 OD); Rainbow Rumpus ($6,225 OD; $5,000 CA); Red Eye Collaboration ($8,700 C; $10,000 CA); Rosetown Playhouse ($10,000 OD; $5,000 CA); Sample Night Live! ($10,000 OD; $5,000 CA); Walking Shadow Theatre Company ($6,813 C; $10,000 CA); West Bank School of Music ($10,000 OD; $3,500 CA).

Organizations receiving three project grants in 2010 include the following:
Katha Dance Theatre ($10,000 C; $10,000 CA; $10,000 OD); TU Dance ($10,000 C; $10,000 CA; $10,000 OD). 

MRAC is one of 11 regional arts councils serving the state of Minnesota. The Minnesota State Arts Board makes grants statewide to organizations with budgets exceeding $300,000.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring performances by Shapiro and Smith Dance

Minneapolis, Minnesota

A shorthand description of "Women and Men," the spring performance program by Shapiro and Smith Dance, can be summed up by the numbers five, four, three, two, one – plus three.

Five women – Maggie Bergeron, Megan McClellan, Kari Mosel, Laura Selle-Virtucio, and Joanie Smith – four men – Bryan Godbout, Cade Holmseth, Andrew Lester, and Eddie Oroyon – and three guest performers – Ananya Chatterjea, Carl Flink, and Emilie Plauché Flink – will perform three repertory works and two world premieres staged in an evening of dance, Apr. 1-4, at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis.

After meeting in the New York dance companies of Murray Lewis and Alwin Nikolais, collaborators Joanie Smith and Danial Shapiro choreographed their first dance together during a 1985 Fulbright Lectureship in Helsinki, Finland. For more than 20 years, the dynamic duo then toured the world with a distinctive blend of contemporary dance and dramatic theater.

Since Shapiro's death from cancer in 2006, Smith has continued to lead their company's creative and administrative development, presenting a mix of new and old works in annual Twin Cities seasons. When not choreographing and performing, Smith serves as associate professor of dance at the University of Minnesota.

For the seven dancers in the world premiere of "Bolero" on the April program, Smith has re-imagined "The Art of War," an earlier work with Shapiro set to Ravel's classic. "'The Art of War,'" Smith says, "used to be Danny's piece. Under my hand, the new 'Bolero' has completely changed, to the point where all that is the same is the music!"

In "Betty's House," the other premiere, Smith has continued the narrative started 23 years ago in "George and Betty's House," the duet she danced with Shapiro. The new installment, set to a Scott Killian score, finds Betty surrounded by cats and still obsessed with fruitless housework.

Smith's colleague, Ananya Chatterjea, director of dance at the University of Minnesota, will perform as a guest in the reprise of "Medea Medea," while Carl Flink, chair of theatre arts and dance, will perform with his wife, Plauché Flink, in "The Gist."

The quartet of Bergeron, Godbout, Oroyan, and Selle-Virtucio promises to round out the program with romantic eye candy in Shapiro and Smith's "Moonlight," set to Beethoven.

Shapiro and Smith Dance will perform at the Southern Theater, Minneapolis, Apr. 1-4. The opening night, pre-show reception will be sponsored by City Pages. For tickets: 612.340.1725.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Walking the streets of downtown Minneapolis, 1

Minneapolis, Minnesota

For 37 years, I have worked in or very near downtown Minneapolis. For 29 of those years, I have lived close enough to walk to work. That has been time enough to absorb, process, and take for granted the countless changes that have infiltrated the cityscape.

Ours is a city that tears things down and builds newer things back up with no regard for any value that might attach to historical or architectural significance. After 20-30 years, we start over again. Witness our unending dialogue about the need for a domed or open-air stadium. If I am still on the planet in 25 years, whatever I then use for newspapers will report on the latest debates to place a retractable roof on the new Target Field that opens for professional baseball next month.

I am not sure that we enjoy this repeating cycle; it just seems embedded in our civic DNA. Perhaps it reflects a collective, obsessive-compulsive personality of the people who built Minneapolis and were never satisfied that they got right anything they were building. In other words, we can't help ourselves.

My new place of employment for the past two months is situated near downtown, near the Mississippi River, and near the University of Minnesota, but at a somewhat further remove from my house than previous workday destinations. As temperatures and pavement conditions have improved with the waning winter, I have begun walking the nearly three miles at least once per day, usually at night.

Such is good for reducing my personal carbon footprint, containing the anxieties of modern life, and for retaining a figure of relative fighting trim.

Treading through downtown this evening, I passed the Accenture Tower on the city block bounded by 3rd and 4th avenues south, and 7th and 8th streets. When constructed in 1987, the 31-story office project was called Lincoln Centre. The "re" spelling of Centre aways struck me as an affectation. Many people have thought it a cold and uninviting structure and have had no hesitation about saying so. I always have regarded it as one of the more classy buildings that have gone up in the last four decades. The tower situates toward 4th Avenue, and has left room for development of a corporate looking park along 3rd Avenue. At the time of construction, there was an expressed intent to build an identical tower along 3rd to mirror that along 4th. Never happened. Now, if another structure rises on that block, it will, no doubt, serve the ego and vision of its designer. A pity.

Nonetheless, I enjoy the park's presence even if it does not invite pedestrians to approach and enter in. In this it is different from the nearly full-block park across 7th Street – also bounded by 3rd and 4th avenues – that serves as a pedestal for the Hennepin County Government Center. The grounds there boast berms and a variety of forestation among pink brick paths. Originally, the bricks were red, imported from someplace in Italy. However, they provided such slick surfaces during our Minnesota winters that, after any number of lawsuit settlements with people who slipped and fell, the bricks got sandblasted down to a dull shadow of their former selves, or were replaced outright.

Construction of the 24-story Government Center, completed in 1977, caused a bit of a scandal because of its cost. Although Hennepin County has been, far and away, the largest of Minnesota's 87 counties in population, prior to the new building few people were aware that county government existed. Previously, it shared space in Minneapolis City Hall.

Hennepin County Commissioner Richard O. Hanson's person and personality drove construction of the Government Center, just as they had earlier won civil service protections for county employees, built county highways, and built the welfare and library programs. First appointed to the county commission by Mayor Hubert Humphrey in 1948, Hanson became the longest-serving commissioner in county history, until his defeat at the hands of fellow Democrat Jeff Spartz in 1976. Construction of the government center was a key issue in that year's campaign.

Hanson was a true Renaissance man. In his 20s, he taught political science at the University of Minnesota. Later, he co-founded a Minneapolis investment firm, Craig Hallum, Inc., helped found the Citizens League, and served on the boards of the United Hospital Fund, Family & Children's Services, the Legal Aid Society, and others. He died at 79 in April 2000.

I first met Hanson in a professional capacity during his 50s, and my 20s, in the 1970s. Later, we came to know each other as closeted gay men who operated largely under the radar of the larger society. His was the first example to me, in those late-Carter and early-Reagan years, of a man who could accomplish worthwhile things in life and still be gay. I am grateful for his unconditional support during a crucial crucible of my life's journey. I think of him often as I pass by the building, plazas, and park that earned him such opprobrium at their creation.