Community Planning & Economic Development

Minneapolis Arts Commission
105 5th Avenue South, Room 200
Minneapolis, MN 55401
612-673-3242

A Brief History of the Minneapolis Arts Commission

Revised January 29, 2010

The Minneapolis Arts Commission, or MAC, is a 17 member, city appointed body that represents the arts community of Minneapolis. The makeup consists of five artists, five arts administrators/board members, and seven laypersons with additional consideration given to even geographic, experience in the arts, connections with the community, ethnic diversity and representation from a range of artistic disciplines. Nine Commissioners are appointed by City Council President and eight Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor with Council confirmation.

MAC was chartered in December 1974 and is part of the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances, ~34.90 - 36.80. As it states in the code, MACs responsibility to the city is "to foster development of the arts; to stimulate participation in and appreciation of the arts by all city residents; to encourage cooperation and coordination between artists and the various arts; to seek financial support for the arts; to act as an advocate for the arts before private and public agencies; to strive for high standards of quality in the arts; and to represent the arts whenever possible." Its mission is to strengthen the arts and enrich cultural life in Minneapolis.

Some of MAC’s activities of the past three decades are visible throughout Minneapolis. You may have seen the artist designed benches around town, which were part of the Art in Public Places program, established in 1987, or some of the 16 gateways that greet you while entering a neighborhood, created by the Neighborhood Gateway Program. You may also walk over the artist designed Manhole covers throughout the heart of downtown-and you probably pass one of the most important MAC-initiated projects every day on your way to work, the sculpture of Hubert Humphrey in front of City Hall.

Since 1985, the Minneapolis Arts Commission has developed the Neighborhood Arts Program, also known as the New Presenters Program and, more recently with revised guidelines, the City Arts Grants. This program was designed to provide small grants to artists and small arts organizations that otherwise struggle to compete for major funding sources in the community.

In 1999, the City of Minneapolis established an Office of Cultural Affairs, bringing together the Office of Film, Video and New Media along with the Minneapolis Arts Commission to operate under one umbrella, under the auspices of the City Coordinator’s office. In 2001, a committee of the Arts Commission worked closely with the Public Art Administrator to establish a process to develop Public Art Polices, which includes a Working Committee with representatives from various walks of life.

In 2002, funding cuts forced the redesign of Cultural Affairs Office and a reduction in staff. The office is now the Division of Cultural Affairs, housed within the City Planning Department. The staff works closely with the Minneapolis Arts Commission and shares our common goal of developing a strong and vital arts community throughout Minneapolis. With the completion of the Minneapolis Plan for the Arts and Culture in 2005, the City is better able to integrate consideration of the arts and culture into overall City planning.

This brings us to the current role and responsibilities of the Minneapolis Arts Commission. Our job is to review, revise and/or make recommendations on all arts-related matters in which the City of Minneapolis plays a role. In so doing, we provide the perspective of both the arts and the community at large to provide the City Council and Mayor informed opinions about their decisions with respect to the way in which the city funds arts programs, projects and initiatives, determines arts-related policies, accepts gifts or loans of artworks, provides for maintenance of public art and assists arts organization, artists and/or schools.

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Last updated Sep. 27, 2011