OUR TOWN 2012: St Louis Park Friends of the Arts
St. Louis Park Friends of the Arts (FotA) is a non-profit community arts organization dedicated
to supporting, promoting, and enhancing the arts in St. Louis Park. FotA connects people and
organizations around the arts, shares arts-related information and resources, and coordinates
community arts programs.
It's all about Building Community through the Arts.
FotA has created a truly unique organization that is the ultimate COMMUNITY arts group.
Northfield LINK Center
In 2010, the City of Northfield found itself in the unenviable position of having to cut its budget yet again. When it became clear to local human service organizations and residents that the City was no longer able to keep open the Welcome Center (an office staffed by a bilingual individual who helped newcomers navigate City services as well as the broader social and human service system), a task force was formed to explore creative solutions. The process, while painful, allowed us to identify key elements that we felt were critical in creating a welcoming community, elements which could now be actively incorporated into a new sort of Center. This included coming to some understanding and agreement as to who the newcomers in Northfield are, and what their needs might be as newcomers. It also gave us the space to debate whose responsibility being "welcoming" is - and to assign roles. It pushed us to collaborate and partner in ways that had seemed highly unlikely - if not downright impossible - prior to this endeavor.
ContributorJanet Lewis Muth
Cedar Outdoors free summer patio shows are a means of increasing access to and building participation in the arts in Cedar Riverside. Offering free performances eliminates the financial constraints placed on low-income resident populations and also allows us to engage new audiences. In this way, it also boosts the visibility of The Cedar's mission and physical space. Involving the local immigrant and refugee populations with free programming will facilitate more intercultural appreciation and encourage more people to feel that the venue is their space, and not just that of outsiders who come to the area solely for a single performance. We eventually hope to address the lack of public space in Cedar Riverside for the East African community to gather by opening up the patio to be public park and selling coffee, tea, and snacks. The outdoor series is the first of many steps in building a sense of community in the neighborhood by hosting highly-visible events open and accessible to area residents and increase access to the arts with free programming.