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home : commentary : actnow April 29, 2016

ActNow: Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics
Photos by Sarah Davis.
The concept is that by pooling attendees' money, the shared wealth is collectively directed to the project deemed most valuable to implement.

by Kathy Magnuson

Chopping, peeling, pierogi production, serving, washing dishes-this is the new face of the patron of the arts in Minneapolis.

FEAST MPLS is a somewhat quarterly public dinner that brings together community-driven financial support with new and emerging artmakers. Modeled on programs in Brooklyn, Chicago, Portland and Milwaukee, attending patrons are asked to make a sliding-scale contribution ($10-$20 is the suggestion). Along with their dinner they receive a ballot to vote for one of a handful of art proposals being considered that evening. The proposal with the most votes is funded from the donations at the door and the chosen artists are invited to the next FEAST to report on their project.

The concept is that by pooling attendees' money, the shared wealth is collectively directed to the project deemed most valuable to implement. The community gets to decide what kinds of art are important to them.

Neighborhoods reconnect
The most recently funded project, Bridging Minneapolis, aims to reconnect neighborhoods-literally and figuratively-that are divided by highway development. Dallas Johnson, Elissa Cedarleaf Dahl and Greta McLain are bringing together residents of the West Phillips and Whittier neighborhoods to collaborate on the design and painting of circular panels to hang along the entrances to the 24th Street pedestrian bridge.


A wide range of art forms is considered, including puppets, burlesque, video profiles, gardens and a choir for hospice patients. "Even if you don't win," said Nicole Buchholz, a core organizer and volunteer, "it is great exposure and networking."

Volunteers are needed to organize and to implement each FEAST. Masami Kawazato, one of the core planners who works with the artists submitting proposals, said she likes the "scrappy idea of it all. If you are interested in volunteering, we are asking for your time. We do not mind if you do not have experience in food or the arts," she said. Help is needed for kitchen and set up crews, administration, working with artists, food and marketing.

Buchholz hopes that guests "might be inspired to look at their own communities and ask what they might help create. You don't need a lot. You just need that good idea."

FFI: The date of the next feast will be posted at www.feastmpls.org


Contact Natalie Bowers to volunteer: admin@feastmpls.org

Where do you see women connecting and making 
change in your world? Send me your story, magnuson@womens press.com

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