Enter the MOSAIC

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June 2, 2003 // UPDATED 10:50 am - April 30, 2007
By: sue rich
sue rich

Minneapolis has a ton of summertime arts events. Can a city-initiated marketing campaign boost attendance and restore our \'collective swagger\'?

Loring Park resident Karl Reichert has been to Tokyo, Sydney, Paris and other recognized meccas of art and culture, but he\'s not about to use his worldly knowledge to dismiss home base. \"Over 81 languages are spoken in the city,\" said Reichert, \"and we have a vibrant, incredible arts community.\"

Now, it\'s Reichert\'s job to get others to recognize it. He is volunteer co-chair of \"MOSAIC: Celebrating the Arts and Culture of Minneapolis,\" whose purpose is to \"recognize the rich diverse cultural heritage of Minneapolis through the arts.\"

The first-time event will kick off Thursday, June 5, with an 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. event at the IDS Center, 80 S. 8th St. Mayor R.T. Rybak - MOSAIC\'s visionary - and Channel 9 anchor Robyne Robinson (Reichert\'s co-chair) will be there.

Kickoff aside, most MOSAIC events are not new. MOSAIC is more of an extensive marketing campaign to promote culturally oriented events that happen throughout the city in June and July - from the American Swedish Institute\'s \"Midsommar Celebration\" to Somali Independence Day - and repackage them as a unified city celebration of diversity.

Rybak aide Erik Takeshita characterized MOSAIC as an effort to reclaim \"the collective swagger of Minneapolis\" one step at a time. He envisions someone picking up the event guide at a museum, and maybe they happen to have it with them when golfing at the Theodore Wirth course. After the 18th hole, perhaps they decide to drop by this great \"Juneteenth\" celebration happening less than a mile away.

Takeshita understands that there\'s a difference between living in a diverse neighborhood and visiting a culturally-oriented arts event, he said, \"but it\'s a step.\"

Takeshita boasts that MOSAIC has already leveraged $15,000 in city money (and unquantified staff hours) \"25 to one\" - snaring $365,000 in private cash and in-kind help to boost a plethora of big and small arts groups.

The groups have their events listed in the forthcoming MOSAIC event guide (at no cost to them) and online at minneapolismosaic.com. Billboards, radio and TV spots - donated by corporate sponsors Clear Channel and Time Warner - will also promote their fests and shows. Overall, proponents argue, it is the perfect public-private partnership, especially during tough economic times.

\"We are always trying to find new target audiences,\" said Annie Patrina, spokesperson for Interact Center, 212 3rd Ave. N., which helps artists with disabilities and has two events listed in the guide. \"It seems like a good thing to do; we are a center for artists with disabilities and want to make ourselves visible. Basically, we went with it because it\'s a good p.r. opportunity.\"

No stranger to big ambitions, Rybak hopes that by next year, MOSAIC can gain a statewide or even national profile, countering the misperception of Minneapolis as a place to get shot or a boring, white bread place.

Reichert hopes to open the eyes of city residents, too. \"I\'d like people from Linden Hills to attend \'Juneteenth,\'\" he said.

In their first few months, MOSAIC\'s volunteer board has also bumped up against the usual complications of public involvement in the arts. How do public standards of \"community\" and \"culture\" conflict with private expression - who gets the free promoting and who doesn\'t? Is MOSAIC potentially cannibalizing already scarce philanthropic funds, and is arts marketing the best use for that money?

Big dream, little money

Rybak said he conceived of MOSAIC while door-knocking during his 2001 mayoral campaign. He said he was struck by the growing diversity of the city and its art - and a lack of recognition of that growth.

Since he won, Rybak has developed a partnership between the city, artists and arts organizations for a MOSAIC-like initiative. But the city\'s budget crisis tempered its financial support. Rybak\'s budget eliminated the executive director of the Department of Cultural Affairs, which was folded into the Planning Department.

Meanwhile, long-running race-related problems in Minneapolis persisted, particularly over policing involving the American Indian community in Phillips and black community in Jordan.

Last December, the City Council approved $15,000 to hire a facilitator for MOSAIC, Martha Arradondo, and gave permission to fundraise up to $500,000. Councilmember Natalie Johnson Lee (5th Ward) said because of the low cost, the effort was not a matter of great discussion on the council.

Of MOSAIC\'s $380,000 budget, Takeshita said $200,000 is cash, augmented by an estimated $180,000 in in-kind contributions, such as Fallon ad agency\'s design work on the logo and website template.

MOSAIC will spend $75,000 for marketing; $75,000 for events; $35,000 in management fees and $10,000 for artwork, with a contingency fund of $10,000.

The $75,000 for marketing was basically for things they could not get donated, \"hard costs,\" such as paper and copyediting, Takeshita said.

The $75,000 for events helped defray the cost of rebranding mainstay festivals and adding diversity-themed elements. Takeshita said the U.S. Bank Grande Day Parade - part of the venerable Minneapolis Aquatennial - received MOSAIC funding for \"Booster Blocks\" that, according to the event guide, \"showcase Minneapolis\' diverse communities and features a sampling of representatives and symbols from each community.\" The Downtown Action Network renamed their \"Alive After 5\" outdoor concert series \"Alive After 5: The Music of Mosaic,\" adding a variety of ethnic and cultural music.

Not all private funds came from corporate donors. The initial or lead funder, the Minneapolis Foundation, contributed $50,000, including the $10,000 for the event\'s signature artwork - an actual MOSAIC mosaic, created by local artist Melissa Bean, of four panels to be filled with tile images and words based on contributions from people at the MOSAIC festivals themselves.

Pulling in foundation money creates a dilemma: draw from art-related funds and you\'re merely cannibalizing existing money for your politically potent event. Take it from non-arts funding, and you risk making event marketing more important than other social-welfare initiatives.

In the case of the Minneapolis Foundation, organization vice president Chris Langer says MOSAIC money came from discretionary sources that do not usually fund arts and culture. \"Our unrestricted funds generally go to systems change - long-term issues like housing, education and children\'s and family health,\" she said.

MOSAIC is a good use of funds, said Langer, because it\'s an \"all boats rise\" idea whose \"exposure to the broader public is an advantage to the smaller groups as well.\"

MOSAIC steering committee member Brooke Darst and Reichert insist MOSAIC adds value beyond redirecting time and money. Affiliation with esteemed organizations such as the Minneapolis Foundation can only boost ticket sales and awareness for emerging arts organizations - and connect them, some for the first time, with powerful private funders who will be needed in a budget-cutting era.

Groups also benefit from some high-powered, no-cost talent: Reichert has been the media man for the Minnesota Orchestra, 1111 Nicollet Mall, while Darst previously worked for Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. S.

They now run their own agencies dealing with arts and artists; like MOSAIC, their donation of time and energy makes sense because of the synergy with their work. Perhaps their private book of business will benefit, but MOSAIC arts groups get the p.r. and marketing help right now, without obligation.

Rybak said MOSAIC is a high-profile arts component of a broader effort to \"tap people or resources who want to deal with people of the city - from crime-fighting [and other problems] and using the arts to help us with those issues.\"

What is culture?

At the same time, Reichert, Darst and the other members of MOSAIC\'s volunteer steering committee get the unenviable task of gatekeeping. Whose fests qualify? Who\'s left outside the mosaic?

Because MOSAIC is publicly supported but not publicly run, there is no public-meeting requirement. However, Reichert and Darst say MOSAIC volunteers struggled with defining parameters since early on. After some debate, for example, the group decided to reach beyond the traditional ethnicity-bound culture and include gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender community events such as Loring Park\'s Pride Festival, Reichert said.

But the larger question remained; Darst said volunteers simply decided after endless discussion that they could not define culture. \"Who are we to decide?\" she said.

Instead, they relied on a case-by-case approach, she said, discussing events with the particular artist or organization. Although the project\'s guide currently lists over 70 events, Darst acknowledges that there were people or groups initially interested for whom \"it did not work\" because of their subject matter.

Darst refused to give names but said it was a mutual understanding. \"Some events are not [culturally] specific, and they don\'t want to be,\" she said.

Rybak, Takeshita and Johnson Lee said they were not aware some groups that were interested ultimately were not included.

Birth pains

While MOSAIC\'s guide offers an impressive glimpse of summertime arts, some obvious groups aren\'t there. Downtown\'s First Avenue, which coordinates many culturally specific events and concerts through its nonprofit music development arm, isn\'t listed. Media contact Sam Sawyer was unfamiliar with MOSAIC but said it sounded great and he planned to check it out soon after speaking with Skyway News.

The Cedar Cultural Centre, 416 Cedar Ave. S., isn\'t listed either, even though it exists to showcase multiculturalism. Executive/Artistic director Bill Kubeczko said he did see a call for artists in the Star Tribune weeks ago but was confused by what MOSAIC wanted. Still, he was impressed with the resources the Mayor\'s office and volunteers pulled together and was eager to join.

Reichert acknowledges that the fledgling initiative could not contact every single arts and culture group in Minneapolis; he also understands that some groups may not be satisfied with the project\'s scope this year. He said he has faith that the invaluable connections formed between artists this year will improve MOSAIC next year, though he hesitates to set specific goals.

Despite Rybak\'s lofty ambitions, Reichert said the fate of the project boils down to resources in the community and what you can do with a volunteer-driven staff - the same issues facing arts nonprofits today.

MOSAIC EVENTS DOWNTOWN

Celebrations and Festivals

\"MOSAIC: Coming Together\" kickoff

Date: Thursday, June 5, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Place: IDS Center, Crystal Court, South 8th Street and Nicollet Mall

Contacts: 673-3023 or www.mosaic.com

MOSAIC\'s opening event takes place with music, performances, entertainment and remarks from Mayor R.T. Rybak. Sponsored by the Minneapolis Foundation.

Performing groups scheduled to appear include: Chinese Dance Theater, the Southwest High School Jazz Ensemble, Ethiopian Dancers, Heart of the Earth performers, Fuego Flamenco, art students from Marcy Elementary, 12-year-old gospel singer Cameron Hughes, Quetzel Aztec Dancers, Theater Mu, Vox Medusa, Tibetan Kahamba dancers, Jevetta Steele, Hmong Butterfly dancers, MOSAIC artist Melissa Bean and more.

The Sculpture Garden 15th anniversary celebration:

\"Use Your Outside Voice\"

Date: Friday, June 13, 4-11 p.m.; Saturday, June 14, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Cost: In advance, $26/$15 members; day of event, $30/$20 members

Place: Walker Sculpture Garden, 725 Vineland Place

Contacts: 375-7622 or www.walkerart.org

This weekend celebration begins with a Friday-night street concert headlined by Chicago\'s Wilco. A daylong family Garden Party follows on Saturday, featuring the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company with special guest Cassandra Wilson, world-music performances, art-making activities and more. Volunteers needed.

Twin Cities GLBT Pride Celebration

Date: Tuesday-Sunday, June 17-29

Cost: Block party, $15-$60; cruise, $25; all other events free

Contacts: 952-852-6100 or www.tcpride.org

The Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender community presents a number of Pride events: Pride Art Opening at Calhoun Square (on Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue South) on June 20 at 7 p.m.; Pride Day at Como Zoo (in St. Paul) on June 22, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Pride Boat Cruise and Pageant on June 25 at Harriet Island 6:30 p.m.-11 p.m.; Pride Block Party with Cyndi Lauper on June 27 at 4th and Nicollet beginning at 5 p.m.; Pride Festival at Loring Park on June 28, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and June 29, noon-10 p.m.; Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade on Hennepin Avenue on June 29, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Gathering: A Woman of Color Expo

Date: Saturday, June 28, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday, June 29, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost: $10, free for children under 5

Place: Convention Center, Exhibition Hall D

Contacts: 763-502-1098 or www.the-gathering.com

The Gathering offers a forum for women of color to celebrate their cultures through a weekend of shopping, entertainment and education. The legendary Chaka Khan hits The Gathering\'s main stage Saturday at 2 p.m.

Bastille Day Block Party

Date: Sunday, July 13, 2-5 p.m.

Cost: Contact for ticket cost

Place: 113 N. 1st St.

Contacts: 332-0436 or www.afmsp.org

A French national holiday, Bastille Day commemorates the July 14, 1789 storming of the Bastille prison and the beginning of the French Revolution that ended the monarchy and lead to the establishment of a republic. The Alliance Franaise sponsors this annual block party featuring French music and booths on French travel, products, educational opportunities and more.

U.S. Bank Grande Day Parade

Date: Saturday, July 19, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Cost: Free

Place: Hennepin Avenue

Contacts: 338-3807 or www.aquatennial.com

The Grande Day Parade has been a rich tradition of the Aquatennial for 62 years. This year\'s parade will feature \"Booster Blocks\" that showcase diverse communities and feature a sampling of representatives and symbols from each community.

Ibaraki/Minneapolis Day

Date: Sunday, July 20, 2-5 p.m.

Cost: Free

Place: Nicollet Island

Contacts: 888-676-6757 or www.minneapolis.org

Ibaraki/Minneapolis Day is the celebration of the 23-year Sister City relationship between Minneapolis and Ibaraki, Japan. This annual celebration recognizes the friendship between the citizens of the two cities and features music and Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging). The event takes place near the island\'s beautiful statue \"Bell of Two Friends.\"

Visual Arts

\'The Community Tree\'

Date: Saturday-Sunday, June 7-8, noon-7 p.m.

Cost: Free

Place: Stevens Square Park, 110 E. 18th St.

Contacts: 871-7307 or e-mail info@interactcenter.com

Interact Studio/Inside Out Gallery presents \"The Community Tree\" at the Red Hot Art Festival. A mixed-media sculpture, \"The Community Tree\" incorporates themes from the communities of the disabled as well as Somali, Latino and other neighborhood cultures. The project is accessible to all ages and levels of ability. Interact artists and instructors will facilitate through teaching and examples.

Japanese Calligraphy and Bookbinding

Date: Saturday-Sunday, June 14-15, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost: $170/$153 members + $25 supply fee

Limited to 12 participants

Place: Minnesota Center for Book Arts, 1011 Washington Ave. S.

Contacts: 215-2520 or www.mnbookarts.org

Classes are offered focusing on the Japanese arts of calligraphy and bookbinding. Students will create their own books.

Indian Papermaking

Date: Saturday, June 28, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost: $100/$90 members + $30 supply fee

Limited to 12 participants

Place: Minnesota Center for Book Arts, 1011 Washington Ave. S.

Contacts: 215-2520 or www.mnbookarts.org

Kagzi is the ancient art of papermaking in India. Examine the history and socioeconomic factors that shaped this craft and discover both the ancient and more recent methods of Kagzi.

Community Mosaic at the Jeremiah Program

Date: Monday, June 30-Tuesday, September 30

Cost: Free

Place: 1510 Laurel Ave., outdoor exhibit

Contacts: 692-8711 or www.jeremiahprogram.org

A MOSAIC visual arts installation featuring work by single mothers who participated in workshops with artist Marilyn Lindstrom.

Literary

The Loft Literary Center: Writing Groups

Cost: Free

Place: The Loft Literary Center at Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S.

Contacts: 215-2575 or www.loft.org

Open writing groups: for African Ancestry, Thursdays, June 12 and July 10, 7:30 p.m.; Asian American Women Writers, Thursdays, June 19 and July 17, 7 p.m; and Twin Cities Gay Men\'s Writing Group, Tuesdays, June 17 and July 15, 7 p.m.

Music

\'Xcel Energy Alive After Five: The Music of Mosaic\'

Date: Mondays-Fridays thru June 29, 5-9 p.m.

Cost: Free

Place: Peavey Plaza, South 11th Street and Nicollet Mall

Contacts: 338-3807 or www.dtwnmpls.com

In its 18th year, the Xcel Energy Alive After Five concert series is held every weeknight in June. This year, the event will feature the Music of Mosaic. Each night different presentations of ethnic and cultural music will be performed showcasing the diverse sounds of. Food and beer will be for sale.

Music at the Guthrie

Date: Various (see below)

Cost: $25-$35

Place: The Guthrie Theater, 725 Vineland Place

Contacts: 377-2224 or www.guthrietheater.org

Friday June 20, 7:30 p.m., African/Latin music with Orchestra Baobab; Sunday, June 22, 7:30 p.m., West Indies musician Joan Armatrading; Thursday, June 26, 7:30 p.m., Spyro Gyra.

2003 5th Annual Hot Summer

Jazz Festival

Date: Tuesday-Sunday, June 24-June 29, noon-11 p.m.

Cost: Free-$37 (check Website for more information)

Place: Between 11th Street and Nicollet Mall and 13th Street and Nicollet Mall, Millennium Hotel, several clubs in downtown

Contacts: 343-5943 or www.hotsummerjazz.com

The Hot Summer Jazz Festival, now in its fifth year, is the Twin Cities\' major civic jazz festival. Comparable to the Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta Jazz Festivals, the festival highlights top international, national and regional jazz artists including Andrew Beals, John Hart, Jerry Weldon, Bruce Henry, Debbie Duncan, Red Holloway and Lucia Newell.

Minnesota Orchestra\'s Sommerfest and 24 Hours of Music

Date: July 11-August 2

Cost: Most outdoor events free, call for more information

Place: Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall

Contacts: 371-5656 or www.minnesotaorchestra.org

Minnesota Orchestra\'s Sommerfest is an internationally recognized summer music festival featuring a variety of orchestral and chamber music concerts at Orchestra Hall as well as outdoor ambiance on Peavey Plaza featuring dining and free entertainment. American conductor and festival artistic director Andrew Litton will focus on the music of Mozart and Beethoven. The festival opens with the free, around-the-clock Marshall Field\'s Day of Music - beginning Friday, July 11 at noon and ending at noon the next day - features music from across the world and closes with a concert performance of Gershwin\'s beloved \"Porgy and Bess.\"

\'Passing the Beat: A Taiko Recital\'

Date: July 11-July 13, Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m.

Cost: $10/$8 students and seniors/$5 children under 12

Place: The Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S.

Contacts: 824-4804 or www.theatermu.org

The sights and sounds of a taiko performance are at once graceful and pulsating, spirited and strong. The concert of traditional and contemporary Japanese drumming will feature students of the Theater Mu Taiko Program and Mu Daiko members/instructors.

\'Leylet al-Tarab

(Night of Enchantment)\'

Date & Cost: Thursday-Sunday, July 17-27, 8 p.m.

Thursdays and Sundays; $24, Fridays and Saturdays $26

Place: The Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S.

Contacts: 340-1725 or www.southerntheater.org

Tarab is Arabic for the state of enchantment or ecstasy induced by music. Dancer Cassandra Shore and the Jawaahir Dance Company along with the Georges Lammam Orchestra and dancer T L\'Emir Hassan Harfouche will create a night of enchantment.

Theater

Theatre de la Jeune Lune\'s

\'The Marriage of Figaro\'

Date: Fridays-Sundays, thru June 29, Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 7 p.m.

Cost: $10-$30

Place: 105 N. 1st St.

Contacts: 332-3968 or www.jeunelune.org

Mozart\'s famous opera, based on the revolutionary play of Beaumarchais, is reinvigorated by Theatre de la Jeune Lune. Singers and actors unite to tell the tale of \"one crazy day\" as Figaro\'s planned wedding becomes an ever-multiplying series of romantic intrigues.

\'Top Girls\' at the Guthrie

Theater Lab

Date: Tuesdays-Sundays through June 15

Cost: $21-$30

Place: The Guthrie Lab, 700 N. 1st St.

Contacts: 377-2224 or www.guthrietheater.org

English playwright Caryl Churchill\'s Top Girls cleverly explores the nature and meaning of success, economic, professional and personal, for women in a world dominated by men. A Victorian-era Scottish traveler; a Japanese courtesan turned Buddhist nun; Pope Joan and Chaucer\'s Patient Griselda are all guests at a Mad Hatter dinner party. Crossing cultures, generations and politics, the play reveals the sacrifices made as well as the joys experienced by extraordinary women.

Illusion Theater\'s \'Annual Fresh Ink Series\'

Date: Thursday-Sunday, June 26- August 10, Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 7 p.m.

Cost: $10/$24 for three-show package

Place: Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Ave. S., 8th floor

Contacts: 339-4944 or www.illusiontheater.org

A summer tradition for 15 years, \"Fresh Ink\" presents world premieres of new plays and new music and dance in a showcase setting where audience members can give the artists immediate feedback and responses in post-show discussions. \"Fresh Ink\" gives voice to new artists and allows veteran artists to experiment. Many productions go on to full main-stage productions at Illusion or other professional theaters.

\'Cloud Cuckooland\'

Date: Thru June 28, various times

Place: Mixed Blood Theatre, 1501 S. 4th St.

Contacts: 338-6131 or www.mixedblood.com

Featuring Kevin Kling, Mixed Blood Theatre\'s \"Cloud Cuckooland\" is a work-in-progress slated to tour England in September. During the run of the show, Interact Center Studio/Inside Out Gallery will feature works by visual artists, as well as workshops and panel discussions. Presented by Interact Center and the disabled community.

\'A World of Stories from

Our Neighborhoods\'

Date: Wednesday-Thursday, June 18-19, 7:30 p.m.

Cost: call for price

Place: Metro State Black Box Theater, 730 Hennepin Ave. S.

Contacts: 492-8945

Storytellers from Metropolitan University are joined by old and new Americans alike to share memoirs, folk tales, ghost stories and whoppers. Presented by the Twin Cities Storytelling Festival, Metropolitan State University, the Black Storytellers Alliance, Arts Us and the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans.

Dance

Zenon Dance Company\'s 20th Anniversary Spring Concert

Date: Thursday-Saturday, June 5-7, 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 8, 7 p.m.

Cost: $16-$20

Place: The Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Ave. S., 8th Floor

Contacts: 338-1101 or www.zenondance.org

Zenon will explore Cape Verdian and West African culture as well as Black American spirituals in this concert program highlighting the company\'s three premieres, retrospective works and a shared concert with Milwaukee\'s Wild Space Dance Company.