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A wrap on the inaugural MinnPost Festival

A rundown of our first crack at hosting a full week of insightful conversations on the ideas shaping civic and cultural life in this moment.

It’s hard to believe that the inaugural MinnPost Festival, our big week of insightful conversations with our special guest speakers, has come and gone. I want to share a bit about how the Festival went and how an event like this helps fuel MinnPost’s public-service journalism.

First, the conversations themselves. We wanted these discussions to reflect what we aim for our journalism to do: take our audience into a deeper understanding of the dynamics shaping civic and cultural life. In that regard, we think — and attendee feedback has affirmed — that we achieved our goal. Recordings of all sessions are available on YouTube, and we’ll be posting edited transcripts here on the site soon.

Next up, attendance. There were more than 1,056 attendees to the six sessions over the course of the week. Additionally, we shared links to those registered who weren’t able to attend live, adding to the attendance during the week. In survey feedback, we’ve heard from many attendees that the events being virtual made it easier for them to participate and the noontime scheduling seemed to work well for many. That’s notable information to keep in mind as we think about the future and the potential return of in-person events if/when COVID-19 protocols might ease.

The Festival is also geared to help raise money to support MinnPost’s nonprofit newsroom. To show our appreciation to the VIP Supporters and sponsors — who give the majority of the funds raised through the event — we have the special MinnPost Festival Thank You Wall. While revenue from Festival passes was strong, we were also glad to have almost 300 attendees use the free option with our Pay What You Can pricing. Having open access to our work is a core value of MinnPost, so it was important to have that be part of the Festival. And the money we raised through the event allows us to keep our journalism available to all readers for free year-round. Thanks to our supporters for making that possible!

And one last piece on the finances: On the Thursday of the Festival, we featured a local media panel discussion with Harry Colbert Jr., editor at North News; Mukhtar Ibrahim, founder, executive director, and editor at Sahan Journal; Leah Lemm, host of Minnesota Native News; and Jana Peterson, editor at Pine Knot News. To recognize the important service these local media partners bring to their communities and our state, we initiated a special fundraising campaign that brought in $4,598, which we shared evenly with these amazing organizations. Thanks to the donors who gave as part of that campaign!

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the incredible members of our events committee, volunteer leaders who help guide our major events and who were instrumental in getting this one off the ground. And big thanks to our staff, especially Brian Perry, Laura Lindsay, Samira Almalhi, and Jada Pulley, who worked diligently behind-the-scenes to make everything appear smooth on screen, as well as to Eric Black, Pamela Espeland, Solomon Gustavo, Ashley Hackett, and Andy Putz, who went above and beyond their normal incredible work producing our journalism, preparing and moderating the insightful conversations for attendees.

That’s a wrap on MinnPost Festival 2021. As we gather our thoughts and look forward, I’ll be excited to share more plans of what the future holds. Thank you!