“We are the folks we’ve been waiting for,” said Gülgün Kayim, City of Minneapolis Director of Arts and Culture, speaking to the annual meeting of Northside Arts Collective (NAC) Nov. 10.
She was referring to anything or any person that would make it easier for artists to make connections and further their careers. For example, when she was at the Bush Foundation, she funded and helped shape what became the Creative Community Leadership Institute, in which she said she would love to have participated. “Friends have told me, ‘you are who you were waiting for.’”
In her City work, she said she has neither the benefit nor the burden of staff or money. But “I will listen, because I care.” Her charge is to facilitate, coordinate, and integrate arts and culture into other sectors. “It’s a difficult time to be advocating for artists,” but she’s there to help figure out “how can you be seen as valuable. We’re working hard to try to get things done differently. And the people I know best who innovate…are artists.”
She called on artists to work in communities. “It’s not about acronyms, it’s what we are going to do together. All I see is abundance there.”
Self-described as a “theatre chick,” Kayim is also a performance artist who gravitates to site-specific work. A Turkish refugee from war-torn Cyprus whose family fled to Britain, she said she’s never quite sure where home is. But after touring North Minneapolis arts locations for a few hours, she said she’d “touched the soul of it” a bit, and finds the area has much in common with where she came from. Northside Arts Collective is the first organization to ask her to speak, she said.
NAC president Robert Johnson proclaimed the organization to have clean financial books after a year of rebuilding. NAC has maintained its newsletter with listings of events and opportunities for artists, and recently NAC held a series of smaller events. The organization is looking for a home, as the previous office in the basement of 42nd Avenue Station is still not resolved after the tornado.
Five new board members were elected Nov. 10: Lynn Albright, Latrell Beamon, Keiona Cook, Andrea Eastman, and Larry Wiesner; joining those already serving: Mick Brogan, Pat Carney, Meg Corcoran, Geno Gelhaye, and Robert Johnson.
Emcee Pat Carney wrapped up the evening with a call to get back to “being about art.” He said, “We are struggling to be artists, and it should be a more fun struggle than what we have been doing. The audience is what makes us artists. Our job at NAC is to get you in front of audiences.”
The meeting was hosted by Photography @ The Center, a non-profit organization making photography classes available to underprivileged individuals. It’s housed at the Minneapolis Photo Center in the Northwinds Lofts building, 2400 Second St. N. Many visitors remarked, “Great space—I didn’t know this was here.”
For membership information or to get on the email list for monthly newsletters, go to www.nacarts.org.
NorthNews Publisher/Editor Margo Ashmore is a consultant for Northside Arts Collective.