Let there be art.
A snowblower ballet and a cinema program to counter anti-Arab and anti-Muslim perceptions are among the 27 new art projects that are coming to St. Paul thanks to an $862,633 grant from the Knight Foundation.
The grant for these projects is part of the St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge – a three-year, $8 million arts investment the Knight Foundation announced in January 2014.
"St. Paul is experiencing significant cultural and economic growth, and Knight Arts Challenge projects are ensuring that the arts are a central part of that," Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation, said in a statement. "Over the past three years, they have added tremendous energy and vitality to the city."
This year, applicants were asked: "What's your best idea for the arts in St. Paul?" The only requirements were that the project must be about the arts, it must take place in St. Paul, and the winners must raise matching funds to receive their grants.
The winners were announced Tuesday. They are:
- Afoutayi eighth annual Haitian Dance, Music and Arts Festival: to celebrate and build understanding of Haitian culture through dance and drumming workshops, performances and community gatherings.
- Light Up the Night Market! It will feature Asian-American artists at the Little Mekong Night Market with a gallery of poster art that reflects community life.
- Wilder Gateway: Build a sculptural gateway for Wilder Playground that will welcome visitors and serve as a public art learning site for City Academy High School.
- Blessing the Boats: A cross-cultural celebration of East Africans and others new to the U.S. that includes participatory theater, photography, film, and more.
- CLUES Fiesta Latina: A festival of music, dance, murals, photography and folkloric traditions to celebrate the art and culture of Latinos in Minnesota during Latino Heritage Month.
- Frogtown Garage Concert Series: A garage concert series to connect the people of the Frogtown neighborhood.
- Empowering Asian Women Through Comedy: Monthly comedy cabarets to talk about the difficult issues Asian-American women face daily in Minnesota.
- Stories That Unite: Students from Skyline Tower and Gordon Parks High School will create short documentary films to tell the stories of East Africans.
- IndiaFest 2017: A one-day festival of music, movement and mudras to showcase Indian culture – everything from classical traditions to Bollywood.
- Emerging Curators Fellowship: A yearlong research, professional development and presentation fellowship that aims to establish and build individual practices of emerging curators from different backgrounds.
- Hmong Murals on Fourth Street: Murals created by Australian artist Vanghoua Anthony Vue that will showcase how Hmong textile traditions have found resonance in contemporary forms and urban spaces.
- Safe at Home: A theatrical extravaganza put on by the Mixed Blood Theatre at CHS Field that'll celebrate the coexistence of arts, sports, politics and commerce.
- Arab Film Fest: The St. Paul Edition: Independent Arab cinema will be brought to five St. Paul college campuses and surrounding neighborhoods to help counter anti-Arab and anti-Muslim perceptions.
- Space 369 (II): An alternative, artist-run gallery in the Creative Enterprise Zone will highlight local and regional artists.
- Hamline-Midway Historical Retrospective Murals: Outdoor murals will be installed on a blighted building that's undergoing renovation to help bring beauty and pride to the Hamline-Midway neighborhood.
- St. Paul Snowblower Ballet: A dance spectacle set to live music – complete with snowblowers and shovels – to transform the "dreary toil of snow removal into joyful art with a ballet."
- The Art of Boxing, the Sport of Ballet: Boxers and dancers will team up for a performance that features both disciplines.
- C/Art: Lowertown: Mobile art platforms that artists can borrow and operatue pop-up galleries and performance spaces – the goal is to bring more art to the street-level crowds of Lowertown.
- The Sex Show: A play that will explore sexuality and stereotypes in the Asian-American community.
- Taiko Tuesdays: A monthly series of free pop-up concerts that'll expand the impact of taiko – the ensemble drumming rooted in Japanese traditions.
- Musique et Masqueray: Concerts accompanied by visual exhibits to commemorate St. Paul's connection with French architect Emmanuel Masqueray – the concerts will be presented in the two churches he designed.
- Celebrating Central High’s 150th Anniversary Through Photography: Artist Chris Faust will take photos of Minnesota's oldest high school, which will then be displayed along similar historic images in an outdoor art exhibit.
- St. Paul Youth Poet Laureate: A youth poet laureate program that'll publish young writers, invite them to participate in civic activities throughout the year, and provide a platform for modeling leadership through critical thought, voice and performance.
- Our Space Is Spoken For: This storytelling project will explore how marginalized communities "redefine and negotiate space." Spoken work poets, as well as performance and visual artists will adapt residents' essays and perform them in the spaces their stories are written about.
- ART Is: Twin Citis PBS (TPT) will showcase the work of emerging artists and curate their work in TPT's Street Space.
- WITNESS 2017 – Underground Railroad: Workshops and concerts that will illiminate St. Paul's role as a sanctuary for the opporessed by raising immigrant voices, from the past and present.
- Crocus Hill: A Ghost Story: Zeitgeist composer/flutist Julie Johnson and writer Cheri Johnson will tell the story of a St. Paul Victorian mansion possessed by malevolent spirits.
This was the final year of the St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge, but the Knight Foundation says it will continue to fund the arts in Minnesota's capital city – more details are expected early next year.