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The Art Shanty Projects, which turns fish houses into art installations on a frozen lake, will be back this winter after pausing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The annual festival, which began in 2004, is returning to frozen Lake Harriet on weekends from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 15, 2022, through Feb. 6, 2022. 

But things will be a bit different this year, with festival organizers adapting to COVID-19 and climate change. 

The artist-designed shanties will be exterior-only this year due to the ongoing pandemic, so artists have been tasked with proposing projects that people can engage with while in the open air. In previous years, attendees could go inside the shanties to interact with the art installation.

And in an effort to not repeat what happened in 2016 and 2017, when a winter warm-up forced the Art Shanty Projects to pull the shanties off the ice on White Bear Lake early and re-set them on the beach, festival organizers have added new requirements for artists. 

There are now weight restrictions for the shanties and each shanty must have moveability features, such as wooden skids, so it's easier to move them to land in case ice conditions start to deteriorate (this is referred to as "Plan Beach"). 

“Artists are innovators, and when presented with a design challenge they adapt in impressive, enthusiastic ways. The array of selected shanties is so enticing! They’ve all interpreted the new guidelines very differently, and I won’t be surprised if this expands the definition of a ‘shanty’ for future seasons post-pandemic (if there is a post-pandemic)," artistic director Erin Lavelle said in a news release.

This year's shanties will be done by returning artists and newcomers. Emma Wood, for example, will feature an outdoor rage room — Reduce, Reuse, Rage— where people can throw and smash molded ice that started as lake water. 

“The social aspect of the village is always important, and the performances (and) art actions are critical in fostering exchange with visitors and initiating the connections we all hunger for after these long periods of isolation. Many of these projects encourage playful movement to keep warm, while others focus on more serious topics facing our city and world, all with a truly unique Art Shanty aesthetic," Lavelle said.

The on-ice program this winter will also include Free Store Shanty from past shanty artists and volunteers. This open-air market will offer winterwear to festivalgoers to keep. It's a new initiative by staff to help keep people warm and happy outside while expanding accessibility efforts. The hope is this will be an annual fixture at the festival. 

There will be special events, too. Bridges Through Yoga will teach Fro-gahh: Yoga for the Planet and the People every Saturday afternoon and Minneapolis Hoop Jams will host hula hoop activities on Sunday mornings. 

On the final weekend, Twin Cities Native Lacross will invite people to connect with Dakota land, water, people and culture through collaborative lacrosse games. And artist Patt Paulson will host Fashion Disasters, a costumed spectacle on the threats of climate change. It will also host a community climate action at noon on the final Sunday of the festival.

You can find the full schedule of performances and art actions on the Art Shantry Projects website here

For those who plan to attend, there's a suggested donation of $10-20 at the gate, with funds aimed at ensuring the program's future. This was introduced in 2020, and was key to the organization's financial health — the festival collected more than $60,000 from 27,000 visitors. 

Face masks are strongly encouraged at the festival.

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