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Walker, Mia cut ties with Minneapolis police; the Cedar launches new online programming

ALSO: Jazz for Justice at Gold Medal Park; Minnesota Opera’s next Digital Opera: “The Fix”; Patrick Stewart (streaming) as Macbeth; and more.

Two young men raising their fists as they sit in front of a mural of George Floyd at the memorial site for Floyd in Minneapolis.
Two young men raising their fists as they sit in front of a mural of George Floyd at the memorial site for Floyd in Minneapolis.
REUTERS/Leah Millis

Early Wednesday afternoon, the Walker Art Center posted this announcement on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, in full caps:

“The Walker will no longer contract the services of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) for special events until the MPD implements meaningful change by demilitarizing training programs, holding officers accountable for the use of excessive force, and treating communities of color with dignity and respect. Enough is enough. George Floyd should still be alive. Black lives matter.”

According to Artnet News, “the Minneapolis Institute of Art decided to follow suit, with a museum representative confirming in an email to Artnet News that it ‘will no longer contract with off-duty police officers from the MPD.’” A tweet from Mia reads as follows: “Mia has suspended its practice of contracting off-duty Minneapolis Police Department officers.”

Artnet News further reported that a representative for the M (Minnesota Museum of American Art) told them “the institution never had a formal relationship with the St. Paul Police Department.” Its home page now carries a message that says, in part, “Museums are not neutral and must actively participate in the dismantling of deeply rooted, systemic racism and racial violence in America.”

The Walker is being called “the first institution to break from the police” and the “first major U.S. museum to stop contracting police for events.”

The Walker and Mia join a growing list of Twin Cities entities, including the University of Minnesota, which on Tuesday announced it will no longer use local officers to assist at major events (including Gophers football games), and the Minneapolis Public Schools, whose board voted unanimously Tuesday to terminate its contract with the Minneapolis Police Department for school resource officers. On Wednesday evening, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted unanimously to end its relationship with the MPD. Officers will no longer be used to staff park events, and park police will no longer respond to MPD calls.

The Cedar provides ‘a space for artists to lead the way’

Ifrah Mansour will perform tonight.
Courtesy of the Cedar
Ifrah Mansour will perform tonight.
The Cedar has been dark since mid-March. In normal times, this would be its busy season in a year that typically sees more than 200 live shows. The storied West Bank venue isn’t likely to reopen soon, but it will start making noise again tonight (Thursday, June 4) with something called the Cedar Public Access Channel.

A new online content stream of concerts, discussions, interviews, archival recordings and educational programs, the Cedar Public Access Channel has been planned and produced by artists working in their homes, studios, apartments and basements. It’s a way for artists to present independently produced, low-cost and inspiring content unique to their voices. And it’s a way for the Cedar to remind us of its mission: to promote intercultural appreciation and understanding through the presentation of global music.

David Hamilton, the Cedar’s executive director, explained in a statement that the channel “will provide a space for artists to lead the way.” All artists will be paid. All programs will be available for free, with a suggested donation to cover costs.

In a video on the Cedar’s Facebook page, Jared Hemming and Deeq Abdi spell it out, with occasional humorous glimpses of Hamilton furiously pounding away on a keyboard. Hemming is the Cedar’s volunteer coordinator/events assistant; Abdi, a spoken word artist, is a member of the Cedar’s 2020 Artist Collective, a group of BIPOC artists.

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The Channel will present a new program every other Thursday. Here’s the schedule so far:

Tonight (June 4) at 7:30 p.m.: Livestream of a community event with Ifrah Mansour. In response to current events, an originally scheduled program will be replaced by Cedar Artist Collective member Mansour creating an art piece on the Cedar’s patio of an aqal, a traditional Somali nomadic hut, with messages of hope from community members.

Thursday, June 18, at 7:30 p.m.: Melaku Belay: An Interview Exploring Fendika, Ethiocolor and the Azmari Bet. Fendika, a troupe of Azmari musicians and dancers led by Belay, was set to return to the Cedar this fall, but that event was canceled. This program will feature footage of the group Ethiocolor recorded during quarantine in Addis Ababa.

Thursday, July 2: TBA.

Thursday, July 16: Rebecca Nichloson: Blooming Season: “Reflections on Isolation, Yearning & Love.” Nichloson debuted her Cedar Commissions song collection “Multicolored Musings: Jewels of Love, Loss & Triumph” in February. She will revisit it here with newer work created in isolation.

The Cedar Public Access Channel will be available on the Cedar’s Facebook and YouTube.

The picks

MPR’s list of Twin Cities’ black-led arts organizations. The arts are a way out of the mess we’re in. Marianne Combs’ list – with links – features all kinds and sizes of black-led arts organizations. All have been affected by COVID in various ways, some by recent events. All could use more support and attention.

Now on Vimeo: Wonderlust Productions: “4 Lessons in Isolation.” Who knows more about isolation than most people, except maybe monks and nuns? Inmates, former inmates, corrections officers and staff in the Department of Corrections. Alan Berks and Leah Cooper, co-artistic directors of Wonderlust Productions, have been working on a new play about the experiences and effects of the incarceration system on our world. The world premiere has been put off until December, but they asked the cast – all community members affected by incarceration – to share insights and learnings for a series of short videos that could help us all. They are Lesson #1: Learn more about yourself, Lesson #2: Listen to others, Lesson #3: Be the best version of yourself and Lesson #4: Examine your anxiety.

A scene from “The Fix” from 2019.
Minnesota Opera
A scene from Minnesota Opera's “The Fix” from 2019.
Starts tonight: Minnesota Opera: Joel Puckett and Eric Simonson’s “The Fix.” Minnesota Opera continues its Digital Opera series by adding “The Fix” to a mix that already includes Massenet’s “Thaïs,” Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell’s “The Shining” and Wagner’s “Das Rheingold.” Puckett (no relation to Kirby) and Simonson’s new opera tells the story of Shoeless Joe and the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Hear it broadcast live by Classical MPR at 7 p.m. Stream it whenever you want anytime between tonight and July 26. Here’s the link.

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Now available for streaming: Patrick Stewart as “Macbeth.” Rupert Goold’s Tony-nominated production premiered at the Minerva Chichester Festival Theatre in the UK, had a Broadway run and was captured for television in 2009. Filmed in a monastery in North Nottinghamshire that dates from the 1100s, it’s dark and rather terrifying. One critic called it “dripping with blood … bleak and dystopian.” Stewart is a greedy, doomed Macbeth, Kate Fleetwood a genuinely scary Lady M, with cheekbones like murder weapons. Brrr! This has been available for a while but we’re not sure how long it will last, so catch it while you can.

Timo Andres at home, not at Carnegie Hall.
Screen shot
Timo Andres at home, not at Carnegie Hall.
Now on YouTube: Timo Andres not at Carnegie Hall. Brooklyn-based Andres is no stranger to the Twin Cities. He twice appeared in Kate Nordstrum and the SPCO’s Liquid Music series, was commissioned by the SPCO to write the first new piano concerto for Jonathan Biss and the SPCO’s “Beethoven/5” project (his concerto was a Pulitzer Prize finalist) and gave a duo performance with his friend, singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane, for the Schubert Club Mix series. On April 29, he was supposed to make his Carnegie Hall debut. Instead, he played the whole program from home as a series of videos on YouTube. He didn’t want the music he had practiced for months to “just vanish from my fingers.” Includes works by Andres, John Adams, Nico Muhly, Brad Mehldau, Robin Holcomb, Philip Glass, Donnacha Dennehy, Louis Andriessen and the world premiere of a commissioned work by Gabriella Smith, plus a 12-minute spoken introduction. The videos “don’t quite achieve the refinement of a studio recording,” said the New York Times, “but they come impressively close.”

Friday (June 5) from 5-8 p.m. at Gold Medal Park: Jazz for Justice. Grab a chair or blanket, mind your physical distancing, wear a mask and bring some cash. All tips will go toward George Floyd’s family and related community organizations. Sit in gorgeous, grassy Gold Medal Park on the Guthrie’s east lawn and enjoy music by the Last Minute Quintet: Victor Imbo, Asher Bernick-Roehr, Robert Dean, Owen McCready and Liam Morrissey. More artists will be added. Check the Facebook page FMI.