The NEMAA blog is a platform for us to share our members work and their stories, and a hub for information about the NEMAA community.

Monday, September 21, 2015

NEMAA presents at Percent for Arts Ordinance Committee Meeting

Photo Credit: Becky Franklin. 
September, 2015

Recently, Becky Franklin, Chair of the Minneapolis Arts Commission reached out to NEMAA to request that we testify the importance of an ordinance that dedicates funding for public arts, prepared by the Minneapolis Arts Commission, and Council Members Elizabeth Glidden and Kevin Reich.

Brenda Kayzar, NEMAA board president and a professor in geography at UMN agreed to speak, and presented at the Zoning and Planning Committee meeting on September 17 at City Hall. Brenda was a great fit as a spokesperson on this topic, as her research focuses on revitalization and she is very familiar with percent-for-arts programs and the role the arts are asked to play in the new creative economy.

We are pleased to hear that the ordinance was approved by the Council Zoning and Planning Committee, and will move forward to a vote by the full Council this Friday, September 25.

Thank you to the City Council Members Elizabeth Glidden and Kevin Reich, Minneapolis Arts Commission, Becky Franklin, Mary Altman, and those who testified: Wing Young Huie, Bob Kost of Forecast Public Art, Brenda Kayzar of Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA), and Leslie Palmer Ross of Art Force.


Read NEMAA President Brenda Kayzar's full speech below:

Comments for Zoning and Planning Committee Meeting, September 17, 2015
RE:  Councilpersons Reich and Glidden’s proposed Percent for Arts Ordinance

Hello Councilpersons,
I’m Brenda Kayzar.  I’m a professor in the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at University of Minnesota.  Today, however, I am here as a representative of the arts in NE Minneapolis.  I’m president of the board of the NE Minneapolis Arts Association. NEMAA produces Art-A-Whirl, Fall Fine Arts (which opens tomorrow evening) and Wintertide.  The organization represents over 800 members; businesses, galleries, community friends…and most importantly, over 650 artists.

On any given day you can visit NE and observe the positive economic impact of these arts entrepreneurs who are running their small businesses in the spaces abandoned by large scale manufacturing.  They are producing their products in re-purposed studios, paying rent, buying supplies, coffee…lunch, dinner.  And attracting others to NE to view and buy their products, and imbibe in what NE businesses have to offer.

I’m not sure I need to argue so forcefully for the positive economic impact of the arts…I think there have been enough studies to support this argument…and history.  However, public art (which also has a long history) is an outward expression of this economic driver; this artistic milieu… and I am here today to support the effort to ensure the city’s consistent fiscal support of this aspect of the arts.
In support of fiscal sustainability, I note two things: 1) much of the way we’ve understood cities through history is through their public art and 2) I suggest that fostering the creative place making benefits of public art necessitates more than just adopting the conceptual terminology.

I highlight my first point by referencing the recently completed mural by a Brazilian graffiti artist that depicts the homegrown singer songwriter, Bob Dylan.  There is so much to be told in the making of this mural-beyond the social media explosion….the cache of an international artist, the representation of the local turned international  talent of Dylan…and the city’s claim to his legacy, maybe the gesture of remorse by Goldman Sachs…maybe!  Suffice it to say, the buzz generated by this arts project goes so far beyond paint.  But this is a privately funded project on private property.  It is not the city’s to tout and it is not in perpetuity.  It is in the public preview, but it is not public art.  And it highlights the need for the city to be engaged in generating its own written legacy through artist endeavor.

My second point is brief…and that is to say that the city has done so much to raise awareness of its wealth of arts activity …as well as foster its growth.  This afternoon I will attend the Creative City Roadmap function at Public Functionary.  This support, however, is best demonstrated through concrete fiscal action.  Attracting creatives, the creative economy, and creative place making …while being conceptually sound guideposts for the future growth of this city nonetheless become rhetoric if only spoken about and not acted upon.

So, on behalf of the artists and artistic community in NE, I request that you approve this sound and sustainable proposal for a guaranteed funding stream percent for arts program. Thank you.

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