Community Planning & Economic Development

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

Minneapolis Arts Commission Membership

The seventeen member Commission consists of five artists, five arts administrators and seven laypersons with consideration given to geographic distribution, experience in the arts, and connections with the community, ethnic diversity and representation from a range of artistic disciplines. Commission members may be appointed for no more than three consecutive three-year terms. Current Commissioners include:

 

Name

BIO

Ward

 

Tom Loftus

Tom Loftus has been active in the Twin Cities creative community for the last 18 years. After 4 years in college radio and booking shows, he founded Modern Radio Record Label in 1999 as an artist friendly endeavor to support and promote musicians making ambitious and interesting music. Modern Radio has released over 60 records from artists around the world with a focus on the Twin Cities music community. In the last eight years, Tom has been involved in a variety of activities as a creative consultant, program coordinator and artist on The Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement, the Northern Spark festival, MNartists.orgblog, David Byrne’s Playing the Building, the Walker’s Artist Designed Mini Golf, Cat Vid Fest and the Cedar Cultural Center’s 416 Commission. Recently, Tom and his partner Robin started a mini golf blog, A Couple of Putts, to document their passion for the game and have been invited to present at the Tasmeem conference hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University in Doha, Qatar in 2015. By day, Tom is an educator and Career and Alumni Coordinator at McNally Smith College of Music. He received his BA from St. John’s University and MA from Hamline University.

1

 

Lisa Middag

Lisa Middag is an urban planner who collaborates with communities to support sustainable, vibrant, and walkable public spaces through creative placemaking and community development. Lisa works for the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District as Director of Nicollet Activation, where she is responsible for developing, directing and implementing an activation framework along the city’s historic pedestrian/transit mall, assuring an inclusive range of cultural experiences for daily users and visitors. She previously worked for Hennepin County Community Works, connecting the Midtown Greenway bicycle trail to nearby cultural and commercial destinations through wayfinding and placemaking. She serves on the board for Springboard for the Arts, is a member of PPS’ placemaking leadership council, serves on the Minneapolis arts commission, and is an Intermedia Arts Creative Community Leadership Institute fellow. She has an M.P.A. in urban and regional planning from the Humphrey School and spent 10 years as the publications director and studio manager at the Walker Art Center.

2

 

Alyssa Perau

Alyssa Perau is a Minneapolis based artist, activist, and educator known for her Minnesota Fringe Festival show First Year Queer. Alyssa creates performances around the topics of queerness, mental health, consent, and sexual assault with the goal of de-stigmatizing conversations around taboo topics. Alyssa graduated with a B.F.A in Theater Performance from Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI and spent a semester abroad in London studying Applied Theater, theater in non traditional spaces for the purpose of social change. In 2017 she completed the Creative Changemaker Apprenticeship under The DIAL Group and lead the Storytelling About Your Sexuality workshop at the Bisexual Organizing Project’s annual BECAUSE Conference. She has worked with Patrick’s Cabaret, 20% Theater Company, Theater Unbound, Nimbus, Raw Sugar, OutSpoken, Gadfly Theater, and was a featured storyteller for the Risk! Podcast. Alyssa is also a certified sexual assault advocate and works for The Day One Crisis Line.

 9

 

Columba Reyes

Columba Reyes is the President of club Cuernavaca-Axochiapan-Morelos, a Community Organization who facilitated the gift of the statue of General Emiliano Zapata in Minneapolis by the Government of Morelos on 12th and Lake Street at Plaza Centenario. The hard work and the legacy of the Latino business owners come from Morelos., making the statue a source of pride for many. She is also a Member-Leader forming a Coalition of differents Organizations called “LUCA” Latinos Unidos por la Cultura y el Arte, she is a Member of Lake Street Council in Minneapolis.
She is a pionner for the Sister-Cities Organization, who is the bridge between Minneapolis-Cuernavaca enhancing the benefits of sharing Culture in areas of education, business, art and more for the good of and between the two cities.

She lives in Minneapolis and have a lot of a experience working at Media Communications (for Spanish channels), she considers herself an activist for art and culture. She is very proud to represent Mexico at the Festival of the Nations, an annual event.

3

 

Mara Miller

Mara Miller is the Adult Program Director for the Minnetonka Center for the Arts (MCFTA) where she plans a full schedule of visual art classes and oversees arts outreach programs. Prior to joining the MCFTA, she served as the Communications and Events Coordinator at the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, where she became familiar with the rich diversity of small to midsize arts organizations in Minneapolis and the 7-county metropolitan region. She is a firm believer in arts advocacy and arts access and has seen firsthand how the arts can build community, spark innovation, and have economic impact. Mara has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, five books published, and has worked in publishing as a marketing coordinator and curriculum book editor. Her BA is in psychology from Hamline University. Her love of the arts goes back as far as she can remember, attending plays and later high school at the Children’s Theatre Company and visiting art museums wherever she traveled. She regularly enjoys going to art exhibits, music performances, and theater events at venues both large and small throughout the Twin Cities. She has lived in the Cleveland Neighborhood of Minneapolis for more than 23 years in a 1923 Arts and Craft style home where she resides with her husband.

4

 

David Kang

David Kang has over 15 years of experience as an independent media consultant, director and producer who has worked in Minneapolis, New York and Seoul. He is currently the principal Creative Consultant and CEO of Hana Media & Development – an independent media development and production firm with the mission of using media and communication strategies to positively impact communities, organizations, and people. Throughout David’s career, he has consistently advocated for the increased visibility of minorities, especially Asians, in media. David is currently a member of the Minneapolis Arts Commission, Northside Arts Leadership Group, Community Shares of MN, and the Asian American & Pacific Health Coalition, as well as several other professional groups.

5

 

Hayley Finn

Hayley Finn has been developing, directing, dramaturging, and producing new plays professionally for 18 years. She is the Associate Artistic Director at the Playwrights’ Center where she produces 50 workshops a year and works closely with emerging and established writers and manages partnerships with producing organizations. Other theatres she has worked for include the Cherry Lane Theatre, Curious Theatre, Flea Theatre, The Kitchen, New Dramatists, New Georges, Minnesota Jewish Theatre, Pangea World Theatre, Public Theater, Playwrights’ Horizons, Roundabout Theatre Company, South Coast Rep, Walker Arts Center, Workhaus Collective and the Vineyard Theatre, and she has been a guest director at Brown University, City University of New York, New York University, Fordham University, University of Minnesota, and University of Missouri. She has served on the artistic council at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, the steering committee for the Associate for Jewish Theatres Conference, and has served on panels for the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and the Kennedy Center College Theatre Festival. She received the TCG New Generations grant, is an alumna of the Drama League’s Director’s Program, and a recipient of the Ruth Easton directing fellowship. She received her BA and MA from Brown University.

7

 

Adaobi Okolue

Adaobi is the executive director and publisher at Twin Cities Media Alliance/Twin Cities Daily
Planet, an award-winning online publication focused on amplifying and connecting marginalized
voices. She is also the principal strategist at Coloring Circles LLC – a marketing studio in
Minneapolis that works primarily with nonprofits, foundations, issue-driven initiatives, and
creative entrepreneurs. Often seen as an instigator for thinking of fresh, smart ways for solving
problems, Adaobi is passionate about exploring the intersections of multimedia, creativity and
innovation, story and activism in her work.

She has been a featured guest speaker on MPR News’ discussion about Black Lives Matter and
media, The Loft Literary Center’s Curated By series on African women writers, The Common
Table’s Writing and Art for Justice, and Pollen’s Work Redux: Influence and Voice.
Originally hailing from Nigeria, Adaobi is also known as a writer, visual and performance artist,
and creative producer. She has been a contributing artist to Sha Cage’s and Signe Harriday’s
MaMa mOsAic—where she was featured in critically-acclaimed Blacker the Berry ensemble and
exhibit at Intermedia Arts – and is Givens Foundation Black Writers Collaborative alum.

7

 

Melinda Ludwiczak   

Melinda Ludwiczak is a project manager for MELSA, an alliance of metro area public libraries, where she is responsible for programs and projects supported through the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. She works with staff at 100 public libraries to plan, implement and evaluate literary programs, performances, visual arts, cultural activities and history programs. A Minneapolis resident for nearly 40 years, Melinda loves her Kingfield Neighborhood, especially the Kingfield Farmers Market she helped establish. She combines her information skills and love of gardening as a Hennepin County Master Gardener volunteer. After a long Minnesota winter, Melinda makes an annual visit to Santa Fe every spring to absorb the sun, museums, arts, culture and breathtaking scenery.

8

 

Jose Perez Garcia

Jose Perez was born and raised in Venezuela where the arts have been a part of his life since he was young. He began dancing at 10 years of age. He is an accomplished latin dancer and instructor, worked for years in theatre, is a sound technician, and a musician. He owned and operated 7 different Latin dance studios over the past 20 years all throughout Venezuela and is highly respected in the world of Latin dance. He opened One Reason Dance Studio is Northeast Minneapolis in 2017 and has been working to expand the Latin Dance community in the Twin Cities.

 

Calvin Keasling

Calvin Keasling is an active Twin Cities Musician and the lead Arts Administrator for Minneapolis Public Schools. He is an advocate for arts education, arts integration, and increased arts experiences for preK - 12 grade students, and believes strongly that the creative process transforms lives for the better. As an arts administrator he has organized and planned citywide performances and art exhibits. As a commissioner Calvin is looking to increase music and other art venues for South Mpls residents. Calvin loves how Mpls artists come together in collaboration, and he is excited to see more dancers, actors, musicians, and visual artists come together in collaborative presentations and performances.

11

 

Hannah Gary

Hannah Gary is the Communications and Program Coordinator for the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Hannah moved to Minneapolis to pursue graduate degrees in public health and urban planning. Her work focused on the role that the arts and artists play in equitable community development. After finishing graduate school, Hannah interned with Public Art St. Paul and Forecast Public Art on several projects at the intersection of urban planning and the arts. She plans to continue working at this intersection of art, planning, and equitable community development.

 

Erika Dani

Erika Dani is an asset manager for Artspace Projects, Inc., a non-profit organization that uses the tools of real estate development to create affordable, appropriate places where artists can live and work. She oversees the physical and financial health of 7 of Artspace's affordable artist live/work spaces throughout the United States, including some buildings in Minnesota. In addition to leasing and operating live/work spaces for artists, she also leases retail and artist studio space to creative businesses and artists. Erika is also a practicing artist. From 2013-2016, she was in a New Jersey based band. In Minnesota, she paints, collages, and occasionally takes on small roles in small performances. She studied city and regional planning at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and graduated with a master's degree in city and regional planning in 2015.

 4

 

Dameun Strange

Dameun Strange is an award-winning composer who lives in the Frogtown Community of Saint Paul, MN. An artist, activist and organizer, he is currently the executive director of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association where he works to promote and support quality and diversity of artistic resources to benefit artists, art and the greater community. He comes to this position after spending 3 years with the Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellowship at the Bush Foundation as a program officer with the Community Innovation Program. Dameun was born and raised in Washington, DC but moved to the Twin Cities to attend Macalester College where he majored in Music and English. Dameun has worked locally for such organizations as Macalester College, ACORN, MN UNITED for All Families, Grassroots Solutions, and Neighborhood Organizing; and has served on the board of Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Compas, Headwater Foundation for Justice, Alternative Motion Project to name a few. Dameun believes the arts has a magical quality in that it can open avenues of discussion, tearing down the walls of misunderstanding. It has the power to tell stories that sometimes go unheard. It has the power to heal, the power to move our communities towards wellness. The arts are a powerful tool in illuminating the threads of intersectionality and recognizing the struggles and triumphs of People of Color, enhancing and American culture that is fully inclusive of all our stories.

 3

 R. Vincent Moniz

R. Vincent Moniz, Jr. (NuEta) has been a part of the Twin Cities artistic community for over two decades as an actor and only recently has begun to share his poetry. Though he is very new to the free form he has the opportunity to perform at The Loft Literary Center’s highly acclaimed Equilibrium series, Revolver Magazine's Revolver at the Ritz, The Chazen Museum of Art, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the outdoor amphitheater of the Minneapolis American Indian Center. Vincent's themes contain multitudes. From growing up in the Phillips neighborhood to speaking against Native American Stereotypes, Moniz finds agency, humor, and poetry in the adventure of being an Urban Indian. The work of this Southside firestarter has been published in the Yellow Medicine Review, online as part of Native Literatures: Generations, and The Center for Victims of Torture as part of their 30th anniversary It Starts With Hope series. His work was exhibited on the walls of the MIA as a part of their exhibit “Arriving at Fresh Water: Contemporary Native Artists from Our Great Lakes” and on the Cedar avenue people bridge in the center of the Little Earth of United Tribes housing projects. Moniz was selected as a 2012 Jerome Fellow, a 2013 Beyond the Pure Fellow, 2014 Verve Fellow, 2015 Loft Literary Center Spoken Word Immersion Fellow, 2016 Minnesota Emerging Writers' Grant and most recently Vincent became a fiscal year 2017 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. At the E. Donald Two-Rivers Memorial Poetry SLAM, Vincent was crowned the Individual World Poetry SLAM’s Indigenous Poetry SLAM Champion. Look for Vincent's collection of poems out of MSU Press' Native American Series and find videos of his live performances at Redoubted.com

 2

 

Joan Vorderbruggen

Joan Vorderbruggen is the Director of Public Art and Placemaking for Hennepin Theatre Trust. Her role includes creating opportunities for local and international artists to activate Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. In 2013, Joan developed and implemented Made Here, a project which pairs Minnesota-based artists work with vacant commercial storefronts. Made Here is the largest storefront initiative of its kind in the nation, now in its ninth iteration having featured work by nearly 400 artists in more than 300 vacant storefronts across 15 city blocks. In the fall of 2015, Joan worked with internationally renowned Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra and his team to create a five-story mural of Bob Dylan. She has since led the creation of four additional large scale murals including a mosaic art vertical garden. In spring of 2016, she pursued and was awarded a “Heart of the Community” grant from Southwest Airlines to work with Project for Public Spaces creating the 5 to 10 on Hennepin initiative. Joan is a founding member of the Placemaking Leadership Council, serves on the Board of Directors for Forecast Public Art, Minneapolis Mad Dads, and Salvation Army Harbor Light. In 2017 she completed the year long Ethical Redevelopment Salon program led by Place Lab and the University of Chicago and was named a National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellow.

 10

 

Judi Obeid

Judi H. Obeid is active in the Arab American and Muslim American arts communities. He has worked professionally in Kathy Haddad’s Road To City of Apples for the New Arab American Theater festival, Willie Nour’s Turbulence and several stage readings for Pangea World Theater’s Alternate Vision’s program in the development of Ismail Khalidi’s play Sabra Falling. He has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management.

 10

 

 

 

 

Last updated Jan 5, 2018

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