May 17, 2019 – The Call

The Flipside

Happy 24th annual Art-A-Whirl! Well over 800 artists at over 60 locations are here in Northeast Minneapolis, ready to welcome visitors into their spaces, show their work, and demonstrate their craft. 40,000 people are expected to be out and about in the neighborhood during the three-day weekend for the largest open studio tour in the United States.

And it almost didn’t happen.

It’s no secret that NEMAA has had an “interesting” year. The loss of significant grant funding coupled with already depleted reserves from ambitious projects put NEMAA and Art-A-Whirl in serious jeopardy last fall. With the support of the NEMAA Board of Directors, righting the ship has been both a challenging and rewarding experience for me as interim Executive Director.

In the past few months NEMAA has been helped both by steadfast members who have been with us from the beginning and by new allies with whom we have only begun to build relationships. We have received substantial aid from the Ballard Spahr Foundation, NE Lions Club, and Hillcrest Foundation — to name only a few — and we owe much gratitude to Debbie Woodward of the Northrup King Building for putting her significant energy towards advocating and championing NEMAA and Art-A-Whirl year after year.

I would also like to specifically thank each member of NEMAA’s board for their steady commitment; volunteers like Alison Price and Allison Ruby for their time and expertise; Mike and Tricia of Public Functionary for producing a beautiful Wintertide exhibition this past January; and all the building captains, volunteers, NEMAA members, magazine contributors, and advertisers who have stood by us and worked with us to make Art-A-Whirl a fun and remarkable event. And finally Russ White, the talented artist, writer, and designer responsible for both the concept and creation of this beautiful publication.

This Art-A-Whirl marks the turning point for NEMAA, where we begin to transition from survival mode to planning mode: to dreaming, creating, and rebuilding. The latter part of this year will be spent laying the foundation for a stronger NEMAA, for the 25th Art-A-Whirl in 2020 and beyond. To mix metaphors, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we aren’t out of the woods yet. We need YOU to be part of that future.

So, as you enjoy Art-A-Whirl this year, ride the free trolley, watch an art demo or a performance, visit an artist you’ve long admired or discover someone new, please also support the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association by donating on our GiveMN page or joining as a Community Friend member. Your engagement matters and will help keep Art-A-Whirl around for years to come.

See you on the flipside,

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