For 18 months starting now, April 2021, 25 artists in St. Paul’s Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods will each receive $500/month in unrestricted support. The artists are part of a new pilot program from Springboard for the Arts. Announced yesterday (Monday, April 5), the program was inspired by the City of St. Paul’s People’s Prosperity Pilot and the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income network. It will not be funded by tax dollars, but by the McKnight and Bush foundations, both based in the Twin Cities.
When COVID struck in March 2020, Springboard was quick to respond by beefing up its Emergency Relief Fund to provide artists with one-time $500 grants. As requests for assistance blew up, Springboard moved $10,000 from its budget into the fund and accepted donations through GiveMN. Over the past year, creative workers in the region received more than $1.5 million in direct aid.
The announcement came days after the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released a report detailing the growth in the arts and cultural sector in pre-COVID 2019 – and the rise in unemployment among artists in the third quarter of 2020. In 2019, arts and cultural economic activity accounted for nearly $920 billion of gross domestic product. In the third quarter of 2020, 27 percent of musicians, 52 percent of actors and 55 percent of dancers and choreographers were unemployed.
Springboard’s pilot program will provide direct, no-strings-attached cash support to artists affected by the pandemic. It will explore the impact of guaranteed income on artists, culture bearers and creative workers at a neighborhood level. And “it gives us the opportunity to demonstrate and advocate nationally that culture makers need to be included in the work to make our economy more equitable and just,” Springboard Executive Director Laura Zabel said in a statement.
Recipients will be selected at random from an eligible pool of artists who have received support from Springboard’s Emergency Relief Fund. At least 75 percent will be Black, Native and/or people of color.
Springboard isn’t alone. On March 25, San Francisco announced its own guaranteed income pilot program. Starting in May, 130 local artists in neighborhoods hit hardest by the pandemic will receive $1,000/month for six months. This program is taking applications through April 15. So far, to the best of our knowledge, San Francisco and St. Paul are the only cities in the U.S. to give this a try.
Faye M. Price to step down from Pillsbury House + Theatre
For almost 21 years, Pillsbury Theatre has been led by two exceptional women: Co-Artistic Managing Director Noel Raymond and Co-Artistic Producing Director Faye M. Price. On June 30, Price will leave her position to focus on personal artistic projects.
Price was hired in 2000 to co-lead the theater with Raymond. She has been the co-producer of mainstage productions ever since. In 2008, the theater merged with Pillsbury House Neighborhood Center to become a catalyst for creativity and community. Price and Raymond became co-directors of the center as well, responsible for its programs and activities.
Before coming to Pillsbury, Price was a founding acting company member of both Mixed Blood Theater and Penumbra Theatre. She also worked at the Guthrie and the Illusion and on many national stages. As a production dramaturg at the Guthrie, she collaborated on more than 30 productions including “Crowns,” “Summer and Smoke” and “Thunder Knocking on the Door,” directed by Marion McClinton.
About leaving Pillsbury, Price said in a statement, “It has been an absolute joy to lead this institution, to produce beautiful theatre and give space to the arts that transform lives and community. … The restrictions necessitated by COVID have provided a perfect time to reset. It has been a time to reflect on my values, and also to bring in new leadership energy.”
Raymond said, “It has been my true joy and honor to work in partnership with Faye these past twenty years. … Faye has had a tremendous impact on the Pillsbury House + Theatre staff, artists and community. Her presence will always be felt and revered here.”
Raymond will stay on in her current role. A succession plan is in place for Price’s position.
Turnover among leadership is a fact of life, but we’re paying special attention during the pandemic. Sarah Rasmussen left the Jungle Theater last May. Lyndel King retired from the Weisman Art Museum in June. Jamie Grant moved on from the Ordway in August. Susan Haas moved out of the executive director position at Open Eye Figure Theatre onto the board. Sheila Smith retired from Minnesota Citizens for the Arts at the end of February this year. And now Faye M. Price.
V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.
It’s a good week for author events.
V Livestreaming tonight (Tuesday, April 6), 7 p.m.: Birchbark Books: Anton Treuer book launch. Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University, Treuer is the award-winning author of 14 books. His latest, “Language Warrior,” is a finalist for a 2021 Minnesota Book Award. Probably his best-known title (and a topic he often presents on) is “Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask,” published in 2012 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. More than 120 questions (and Treuer’s answers) cover Native history, language, traditions and culture, debunking countless stereotypes along the way. Tonight’s event is about the Young Reader’s Edition, just out today, with new questions, new sections (including one on social activism), new photos and adapted text. A conversation will be followed by a reading and audience Q&A. Free with registration.
V Livestreaming tonight (Tuesday, April 6), 5:30 p.m.: Rain Taxi: Sesshu Foster and Arturo Romo in conversation with Karen Tei Yamashita. We’ve really been enjoying these Rain Taxi events, which bring interesting people together for intriguing and sometimes enchanting conversations. Foster is a writer and educator, Romo an artist. Their new novel, “ELADATL,” is a hybrid literary experiment, what Jonathan Lethem has described as a “‘real fake dream’ of the future-past history of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines.” Yamashita is a novelist, educator and Carleton College graduate. Free with registration.
V Livestreaming Wednesday, April 7, 4 p.m.: Friends of the University of Minnesota Libraries: 12th Annual Pankake Poetry Reading: Deborah Keenan. Past readers in this series, named in honor of retired poetry-loving librarian Marcia Pankake, have include Heid E. Erdrich, Margaret Hasse, Michael Dennis Browne, Bao Phi, Jim Moore and Louis Jenkins. Minnesota Book Award winner Keenan is the author of 10 poetry collections. She’ll read, then speak with poet James Lenfestey, who calls her “a treasure.” Free with reservation.
V Livestreaming Wednesday, April 7, 8 p.m.: Magers & Quinn: Morgan Jerkins: “Caul Baby.” The New York Times bestselling author of “This Will Be My Undoing,” a collection of essays, will make her fiction debut with a novel set in Harlem and touched by magic. Jerkins will be in conversation with Rachel Cargle, moderated by Tyrese Coleman. Pre-order a book by April 6 for access.
V Livestreaming Thursday, April 8, 11 a.m.: Minneapolis Institute of Art: A Morning Conversation with Terry Tempest Williams. A voice for ecological consciousness and social change, Williams has authored many books including “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place,” “Finding Beauty in a Broken World,” and “The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks.” We’re not sure how much reading she’ll do. She’ll be in conversation with Deborah Karasov, chief operations officer of Great Plains Institute. Free with registration.