Community Forum: Art in a Time of Economic Crisis

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Panelists at Community Forum, Steven Square Center for the Arts (SSCA)

Community Forum and Panel Discussion

This event took place on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at the Stevens Square Center for the Arts.

“Art in a Time of Economic Crisis” was a free community forum and panel discussion, featuring short presentations by:

  • Vickie Benson, Program Director, Arts, The McKnight Foundation
  • Gwen Cannon, Program Director, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council
  • Melinda Hobbs Childs, Program Manager, Forecast Public Art
  • Andrea Jenkins, Senior Policy Aide, 8th Ward City Council Office
  • Sarah Schultz, Director, Education and Community Programs, The Walker Art Center (and) Board Member, The Soap Factory
  • Laura Zabel, Executive Director, Springboard for the Arts


Since 2008, the local arts community has suffered a series of financial setbacks and major closings. With the economy in a tailspin, major cultural institutions such as the Walker Art Center and the MIA have been forced to lay off many of their full time employees.

But it is the hundreds of small-to-midsized arts organizations that have suffered the most. In an age of shrinking endowments and a declining donor pool, many long-running galleries and theaters—such as the Minnesota Museum of American Art—have been forced to shutter their doors. It is these smaller, grassroots organizations that have helped to revitalize struggling neighborhoods and enriched local communities.

The Twin Cities would be a drab place, indeed, without the wealth of cultural activities we all enjoy.

There are more than 20,000 artists in the state of Minnesota, many of whom now face the prospect of long term unemployment. Last year, arts and cultural organizations contributed a total of $1 billion to the state economy. The loss of hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in annual spending is already being felt far beyond the nonprofit sector and the gallery circuit. This is an issue that affects us all.

It is for this reason that the Stevens Square Center for the Arts has chosen to convene a community forum to discuss what we can do to help support the arts.

The Community Forum will also serve as a special Sneak Preview of our next exhibit: “Press Gang: Eight Local Printmakers.”

This presentation was made possible, in part, thanks to support from the Stevens Square Community Organization (SSCO).

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Pictured: Guests arriving at the Community Forum (2009)