There’s Uptown, Downtown, Frogtown, Midway and now there’s MidCity, the University and Highway 280 business district that sits at the western border of St. Paul. The area is kicking off its new name (and its new tagline, “It’s more fun in the middle”) with MidCity Fest, a weekend-long event Aug. 6-8 that will feature an art fair and free live music, while showcasing neighborhood businesses, organizations, venues and artists.
MidCity Fest will coincide with Gremlin Theatre’s and Sacred Path’s participation in the Twin Cities Fringe Festival.
The new name and festival is a collaboration between District 12 representatives and a group called Econoculture, whose mission is to spur economic development in Minneapolis-St. Paul neighborhoods by creating partnerships between arts and cultural institutions in those communities.
When Scott Mayer of Econoculture approached the St. Anthony Park Community Council about creating an arts festival, “it was synchronicity,” said Amy Sparks, District 12 executive director. The Community Council had just formed an arts task force to promote arts in the University- 280 area, which houses a number of artist studios and arts venues.
The Arts District Task Force was created about a year ago to explore ways to maintain the arts community as the Central Corridor light-rail project moves through. The Community Council received a $20,000 grant to conduct an action study for the arts district, Sparks said.
Twenty-five businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals will take part in the festival with tours, special promotions and exhibits. There will be free live music and arts entertainment at the Lyric Arts Apartments amphitheater at University and Hampden. The music will be held from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, and noon-9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7. The tentative line-up includes students from the Rock Star Supply Company and School of Rock, Alissa Barthel, Lulu’s Playground, Medusa Cabaret and Rass Kwame and Ananse Band.
An all-day art fair will be held at the Lyric on Saturday. An art exhibit and sale will be held next door in the Carleton Artist Lofts Community Room, 2285 University Ave., and in the outside courtyard on Saturday.
Twenty artists from the Dow Building, 2242 University Ave. W., will host Do the Dow Art, an exhibit in a studio off the loading dock on the Hampden side of the building. Hours are 5-10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, and noon-10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7. The Women’s Drum Center, also located in the Dow Building, will perform outside the building on Saturday afternoon. The Chittenden and Eastman building, 2402 University Ave., will also host an art show.
The first 300 people who take photographs of themselves participating in the MidCity Fest will win T-shirts featuring the new MidCity logo. To win, you must photograph yourself at three participating venues and present the photos at the Lyric Arts venue.
Other businesses involved in MidCity Fest include Art at 2402, Cafe Biaggio, Edge Coffee House, Handi Medical Supply, Holly House Center for Integrated Health Care, Independent Film Project Minnesota, Keys Café, Park Midway Bank, Picture Frame Supply, Rockstar Supply Co., Running Tiger Academy, Salon George, Sharrett’s Liquor, Subway, Succotash, The Dubliner, Twin Cities T’ai Chi and U.S. Bank.
Sponsors include Traveler’s Foundation, St. Anthony Park Community Foundation, Lyric Arts Apartments, Cornerstone Company and Wellington Management. Imagehaus created the MidCity Fest logo.
You can find out more about the festival at its Facebook page: www.facebook.com/midcityfest.