The Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) was one of four Twin Cities organizations that was awarded an ArtPlace grant for "creative place-making" initiatives in early June. NACDI will receive $435,000 to lead the design and construction of Anpetu Was'te Cultural Arts Market, a plaza surrounding the Franklin Avenue Light Rail Station that will include permanent art installations and spaces for local vendors.
"The grant is really promoting the idea of creativity, innovation, and catalyzing change," said Andrew Hestness, Interim President and CEO of NACDI, who has been the lead on the Anpetu Was'te Cultural Arts Market project.
The inspiration behind the Anpetu Was'te (which means "Good Day" or "Welcome" in Lakota/Dakota) Cultural Arts Market came from NACDI's participation on an urban planning advisory board with the City of Minneapolis. The board looked at possible city planning improvements along the light rail and the American Indian Cultural Corridor on Franklin Avenue. Although some enhancements were made to the pedestrian environment along the Corridor, NACDI employees didn't think the changes were as significant as they needed to be.
"Frankly, when that process came out, we just didn't feel like what they were doing was enough," said Hestness. "It gave us a lot of energy around trying to identify what's the next step for that area and how we could move that forward."
It was around this time that employees at NACDI became aware of the ArtPlace grant. According to their website, ArtPlace is "a collaboration" between eleven foundations, including the McKnight Foundation, based in Minnesota, eight federal agencies, and six large, national banks.
The organization aims to "accelerate creative place-making" by "making grants and loans[,] striking important partnerships," and supporting "solid but imaginative research[,] communication, and advocacy." In all, Hestness said that ArtPlace reviewed over 2,000 applications for grant awards this year and selected only 47 projects nationwide.
"It seemed like the right project at the right time," said Hestness.
The goal of the Anpetu Was'te Cultural Arts Market project is to create a cultural hub that connects the light rail station to the larger Native arts market on the cultural corridor, support Native entrepreneurs, and infuse the area with public art pieces.
"We want to create a community space that connects different neighborhoods, businesses and people in the area," said Hestness.
Although the specifics of the site are still in development, NACDI has already collaborated with several different organizations in completing the grant application and creating plans for what the plaza will ultimately look like. Partners thus far have included students from the Humphrey Institute, City Councilmen Robert Lilligren, Cam Gordon, and Gary Schiff, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, various municipal staff members at the City of Minneapolis, members of other Twin Cities organizations who have received grants from ArtPlace, and members of the design firm Tool Design Group. Moving forward, NACDI plans to assemble an advisory board of community members to help develop plans for the space.
"It's really conceptual at this stage and we want to do it in a way that the community is designing it," said Hestness. "We don't want to just plop something down and have it not fit the visions and dreams of the community for that space."
In addition to space for vendors and community meeting areas, the plaza will include four distinct art pieces for permanent display. Although plans are not yet concrete, Hestness feels that because of city and county regulations regarding the space, the four installations will likely take the form of sculptures. NACDI plans to put out an open, request for qualifications to artists in the area and have the community advisory board review their proposals before selecting the four artists.
"We're trying to bring both components of our work together in this project, so it really is arts-based place-making," said Hestness, referencing NACDI's All My Relations Arts initiative, which includes a gallery space and events focusing on past and present Native artists.
Currently, NACDI plans to begin forming the community advisory board in Fall of 2012. Construction on Anpetu Was'te Cultural Arts Market is slated to begin in Spring of 2013 and be completed in time to have a grand opening celebration in either October or November of the same year. More events and a more extensive list of vendors are planned for Summer 2014.
Community members who want to get involved with the advisory board, or any artists who have questions about the upcoming open call for proposals should contact Hestness via email at: