Contact: Matt Laible, 612-673-2786

Kresge Foundation awards Intermedia Arts $1 million to support Creative CityMaking in Minneapolis


Feb. 3, 2014 (Minneapolis) Intermedia Arts has been awarded $1 million by the Kresge Foundation for a three-year pilot of its Creative CityMaking program. This grant follows a successful pre-pilot partnership in 2103 between Intermedia Arts and the City of Minneapolis’ Long Range Planning Division and its Arts, Culture and Creative Economy program.

“This initiative recognizes what we already knew—that the elected leadership of this city, working hand-in-glove with some of the most visionary and effective nonprofits around, has fostered an ecology of artistic innovation and cultural creativity,” said Rip Rapson, President of Kresge Foundation. “With remarkable ambition, the Creative CityMaking Initiative promises to demonstrate once again that the City of Minneapolis is a national pioneer in exploring how city government can work with community partners to promote full and effective integration of public and community systems through collaboration, joint inquiry, and shared purpose.” 

The pre-pilot, funded by ArtPlace America, fostered year-long collaborations between local artists and City of Minneapolis planners to develop fresh, innovative approaches to community engagement. Seven artists embedded in the Long Range Planning Division of the Community Planning and Economic Development Department (CPED) gathered input from communities on issues from light-rail transit to historic preservation. These collaborations resulted in new creative strategies and tools to engage residents, especially those who are underrepresented in conventional city planning processes. The exciting results from this first year are currently on display through March 8 in This is our City!, an interactive gallery exhibit at Intermedia Arts.

The new grant from the Kresge Foundation is focused on building strong, healthy cities by promoting integration of arts and culture into community revitalization. This goal aligns with the City’s 2005 Plan for Arts and Culture, established by the Minneapolis Arts Commission and the Minneapolis City Council, which outlines a vision for bringing together artists and City Departments to explore creative ideas for addressing city problems.

Over the next three years, Creative CityMaking will apply what was learned in 2013 about the roles artists can play as innovative collaborators in city government, integrating artists into the operations of up to five City of Minneapolis departments. Kresge Foundation aims to use what is learned through Intermedia’s partnership with the City of Minneapolis Arts, Culture and Creative Economy program to promote effective creative placemaking on a national scale.

“We are funding pilots to address persistent challenges to the efficacy of integrating arts and culture into local systems,” said Regina Smith, Senior Program Officer, Arts and Culture, at Kresge Foundation. “The Creative CityMaking initiative serves as a test case in our portfolio because it continues a partnership between Intermedia Arts, local artists, and the City of Minneapolis for the benefit of residents in challenged neighborhoods. This is an ambitious initiative with potential for broad, deep and sustained impact.”

Drawing on Intermedia Arts’ 40 years of work at the crossroads of the arts and community change, the Creative CityMaking initiative will emphasize sustained collaborations between public service professionals and experienced community arts practitioners. A central goal will be the creation of a network of professionals working as creative community leaders within the City’s structure to support the development of healthy, caring, and equitable communities. Over time, Intermedia envisions that members of this network will establish themselves as an effective force for innovation in service to the City of Minneapolis and its citizens.

“The partnership between Intermedia Arts and the City of Minneapolis during the pre-pilot program demonstrates the powerful results of bringing together arts, innovation and planning,” said Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. “When we come together, bridging the gap between government and community, we cultivate a sense of imagination that allows us to think bigger about how to be a great city, how to be a great people.”

Results and impact of the pre-pilot

The 2013 collaboration between Intermedia Arts, the City’s Arts, Culture and Creative Economy program and City of Minneapolis planners aimed to increase community engagement, improve problem solving, and spread innovation in community revitalization efforts in Minneapolis.

“The results of the pre-pilot exceeded our expectations,” said Theresa Sweetland, Executive Director of Intermedia Arts. We heard from planners that they have developed a new appreciation for engaging communities outside the standard practices. Artists successfully expanded the traditional reach of the planners by creating new forms of community engagement that supplemented traditional procedures of public meetings or online surveys. The artists’ approaches brought new voices into the conversation about what our city should look like in the coming years. They made the community input process more inclusive by making it more accessible and more fun.”

In discussing the success of the pre-pilot, Vickie Benson, arts program director at the McKnight Foundation and member of the ArtPlace funders collaborative, said, “The pre-pilot leading to this grant illustrates ArtPlace’s power to catalyze the efforts of great artists. Leveraging some of our strongest assets, ArtPlace embeds artists at the center of physical, economic, and cultural development across the country. McKnight is pleased to invest in this type of work at Intermedia Arts through ArtPlace.”

Examples of the pre-pilot collaboration include:


·         Three artists from Juxtaposition Arts—Roger Cummings, Samuel Babatunde Ero-Phillips, and Caroline Kent—collected community input about upcoming development in the Dinkytown neighborhood by converting an online survey into a hand-drawn zine. With a mobile engagement theater attached to a bicycle, they pedaled through the neighborhood gathering input from people on the street, more than 80% of whom had never before given input into a city planning process.


·         Artists Ashley Hanson and Wing Young Huie working in north Minneapolis generated nine engagement strategies—including interactive theater at bus-stops and table-toppers at restaurants—to spark dialogue and collect input from people who would not normally be part of a city planning conversation about land use or transit. Data gathered through informal artistic means was plotted onto graphs to inform the formal planning processes.

·         Creative CityMaking activities took place throughout the city, at neighborhood festivals, on street corners, in community centers and schools. Artists created eye-catching sculptures and pop-up galleries that drew the people of Minneapolis into rich and lively dialogue about civic issues. Artist Witt Siasoco appeared with his mobile tracing unit near sites the City has identified as historically significant but endangered. Passersby were invited to trace the cityscape while discussing the City’s historic preservation efforts. Of the 600 people he engaged on the street and in workshops, more than 75% said they had never before been involved in a City planning process. Witt’s work is aligned with the City’s efforts to analyze and assess the combined findings of historic survey work conducted over the past 10 years.

·         Artist Diane Willow created a playful foot-level camera device that helped planners gain a unique perspective on the pedestrian experience of walking to potential transit stations along the Southwest LRT. The video footage enabled planners to communicate this experience to others in a captivating way. 

About Intermedia Arts

As Minnesota’s premier multidisciplinary, multicultural arts organization, Intermedia Arts builds understanding among people by catalyzing and inspiring artists and citizens to make changes in their lives and communities. Intermedia is a nationally recognized leader in empowering artists and community leaders to use arts-based approaches to address community issues. From aerosol art to digital technology to performance art to spoken word, Intermedia works from the community up to unearth and enliven new and emerging artists and art forms, while exploring and challenging the role of art in our lives. By stimulating civic dialogue and giving voice to the issues and experiences of underrepresented communities locally, nationally and internationally, Intermedia Arts contributes to a stronger, healthier society. Intermedia Arts is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located at the intersection of four vibrant urban neighborhoods on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis. More information is available at

About the City of Minneapolis Arts, Culture and Creative Economy Program

The Arts, Culture and Creative Economy is an initiative of the City Coordinator’s Office and works to leverage the creative sector towards strengthening social and economic growth in the City of Minneapolis. This program is focused on achieving three goals: 1) Promote and coordinate City resources to develop the arts as an economic generator in alignment with the City goal: Arts and artists are economic drivers in and of themselves; 2) Stimulate cross-sector collaboration to strengthen the arts economy and community in Minneapolis and 3) Provide presence and visibility for the arts and artists in the City of Minneapolis. The program connects the City administration through strategic partnerships to creative sector opportunities, interests and activities and leverages the creative sector towards helping departments better achieve City goals by engaging the community.





Published Feb 3, 2014



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