30 years ago, a partnership between the Minneapolis Arts Commission and the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) inadvertently launched one of the most active and broad-reaching arts organizations in the Twin Cities, FORECAST Public Artworks. Based in St. Paul, FORECAST works to advance public art by supporting artists and providing assistance and education to neighborhoods, businesses and communities.
The name FORECAST was conceived in the imagination of founding executive director Jack Becker; he believes that the word “forecast” acurately conveys a sense that artists are always looking to the future and trying to predict what is ahead. To launch what Becker is describing as a “new era” for the organization, FORECAST is holding a celebration next week at the luxurious Chambers Hotel in Minneapolis.
The FORECAST 30th Anniversary Celebration event will be held on Wednesday, May 21 from 6:30 to 9:30 at the rooftop balcony and lounge at the Chambers Hotel, 901 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis. The FORECAST 30th Anniversary Celebration event will be held on Wednesday, May 21 from 6:30 to 9:30 at the rooftop balcony and lounge at the Chambers Hotel, 901 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN. Tickets are $100 per person. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will be making a special appearance. The event will feature an auction of one-of-a-kind artists’ umbrellas, a live DJ, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and the release of the latest issue of Public Art Review. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will be making a special appearance. Tickets are $100 per person. Call 651-641-1128 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets ($100).
In the late 1970s, Becker was hired through CETA to implement an artists’ employment program throughout Minneapolis. Artists spent half their time in the studio, and half in the community. The project brought art to all sectors of the city—from buses to storefronts. Though the program ended, Becker’s work with galleries and projects continued to evolve. In 1978, a team of artists decided to solidify their work through the development of an organization with a clear mission and purpose.
Today, FORECAST provides three main services. One of the most well-known is the publication of the 19-year-old magazine Public Art Review. The organization also consults with businesses, corporations, non-profits, and government organizations in planning and installing public art pieces. In addition, the group participates in the development of various projects in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Lastly, through a partnership with the Jerome Foundation, FORECAST grants money to artists for research, development, design, and production.
|Also in the Daily Planet, read Chris Steller on 2007’s “Jack Becker Day” in St. Paul.|
Over its 30 years of existence FORECAST has grown considerably, in ways that no one could have predicted when the organization was founded. FORECAST is now declaring a “new era,” and Becker is pleased at how far the organization has come. “What’s new about FORECAST is that we’ve turned a corner locally, nationally, and even internationally.” Although FORECAST has a long history of involvement in many key projects throughout the state, most people don’t really know about FORECAST—what it is or what it does. The group’s goal is to change this.
A major coup came last year, when FORECAST won the 2007 Americans for the Arts Public Art Network award. The award honored both Becker’s leadership and the impact of FORECAST’s magazine, Public Art Review. “Public Art Review is the only magazine of its type in the United States,” notes Becker. “It is the world’s only journal devoted exclusively to contemporary public art.”
The majority of FORECAST’s work is done locally. However, in recent years, Becker has been invited to speak about FORECAST and its programs in countries including Poland, Japan, and England. Public Art Review has 10,000 national and international subscribers.
FORECAST’s long-term vision is to provide a clearinghouse that will provide a broad range of information in one location. Specifically, Becker wants to put more content online—including a database of artists, educational resources, and professional networking services. The organization is also seeking to develop distance-learning classes and to share databases with other organizations such as the University of Minnesota.
“We’ll be testing the waters regarding building an endowment to support the Web site,” says Becker. One of the most important challenges is to ensure that the Web site will weather transitions and technical changes over the coming years. Becker believes the online clearinghouse will ultimately make his work easier and provide essential information to the public. “We have a three-year plan for the site. The Web site isn’t the icing—it’s really the foundation.”
Betsy Mowry works as an arts administrator with COMPAS and the Arts & Culture Partnership of St. Paul.