Art-A-Whirl brings in 30,000 people, Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association reports


Let’s do some math: 30,000 people spending $35 apiece on a nice dinner/drinks would add up to over $1 million into the local economy. If they buy art, the total’s much higher; visual art sales/awareness are reasons for Art-A-Whirl.

Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA) kicked off the 2013 Art-A-Whirl effort Jan. 22, announcing the annual Artist Directory cover art and pumping up a capacity crowd of members at Chowgirls Parlor with reports and projections about the $189,000-budget non-profit organization. The annual studio crawl will be held May 17-19.

First Ward City Council Member Kevin Reich opened the proceedings explaining that appointing the city’s director of arts, culture and creative economy, Gulgun Kayim, demonstrates the city reasserting its support for what artists mean to community. One of her first-year projects was to manage a Creative Vitality Index (CVI) soon to be released which will show the effects of Art-A-Whirl. “You guys have done a lot. Art-A-Whirl is an unparalleled phenomenon, with so many tentacles of value. It’s so potent, it will be highlighted within the index.”

Reich served on the committee that oversaw the CVI and said he serves on anything the city does relating to arts.

Susan Wagner Ginter, outgoing NEMAA president noted that the past year has largely been spent strengthening infrastructure and marketing strategies, including a new website, She announced results of the visitor counting project conducted during last year’s event. “We’ve been saying anything from 10,000 to 50,000 people, and now we know that Art-A-Whirl brings in 30,000 people.”

Incoming president Carmen Gutierrez Bolger laid out goals of creating more opportunities for members through pop-up galleries, studio visits for small groups of buyers, more socials for members, and learning opportunities for the general public on buying art. She noted a need to work on diversity, and “maybe performance groups”—an earlier administration had focused the organization strictly on visual art about 10 years ago.

NEMAA needs more partners and sponsors, and more media exposure in greater Minnesota, Gutierrez Bolger said. She said NEMAA plans to meet regularly with city officials on more public spaces for arts. NEMAA works with the Northeast Community Development Corporation (NECDC) and the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. She called on members to “help us grow and shape the organization.”

Executive Director Ale Pelinka introduced Anna Becker, a potter, who will start staffing the office in the California Building Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. She said NEMAA will be working with the Northeast Chamber of Commerce and NECDC on an economic impact report funded by the city’s Great Streets grant.

About Art-A-Whirl, Pelinka said there will be two trolleys again, and she made a pitch for about 200 volunteers, half needed in the counting project and the other half for other duties. To contact NEMAA, email or call 612-788-1679.

Alejandra Pelinka got a proof of the 2013 NEMAA directory from Joan Nygren.

Council Member Kevin Reich posed with incoming NEMAA president Carmen Gutierrez Bolger and State Representative Diane Loeffler.

At left, art on the NEMAA cover (© Julia Timm); Above, Terry Day with friends. (Photos by Margo Ashmore)

Northeaster Editor’s Note: Margo Ashmore, a Minneapolis Arts Commissioner and a past Art-A-Whirl coordinator, also served on a CVI committee. She reports that the CVI documents arts in terms of employment. While the largest concentration of artists in Minneapolis is downtown, the southern half of Northeast shows an elevated level of arts employment compared to many other parts of the city.