Northern Newsletter, Dec 14, 2018

Sarah Peters

Work with us! New paid apprenticeship program

Northern Spark 2016 Launch Party with special musical guests Doks Robotiks at Mill City Museum. Photo: Dusty Hoskovec.

Since 2011, Northern Spark has created a spirit of adventure and belonging, with the help of hundreds of artists and community partners. This year we’re starting a new Festival Apprenticeship Program, the goal of which is to share the systems we’ve built over the years, and to foster an exchange of skills and community knowledge in the neighborhoods where the festival is taking place. Festival Apprentices get an inside view of how a large public event comes to be, and work with a dynamic team that produces all aspects of the festival.

In 2019 Northern Spark takes place in three neighborhoods: Downtown East (Minneapolis) in The Commons, American Indian Cultural Corridor (Minneapolis) along Franklin Ave., and Rondo (St. Paul) at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center.

For the Apprentice Positions we are looking for candidates with cultural connections and community involvement in Rondo and the American Indian Cultural Corridor.

There are four festival-wide positions:

  • Outreach and Projects Apprentice
  • Communications Apprentice
  • Curatorial Content Apprentice
  • Production Apprentice

Read more about each position and stipends here.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Friday, January 11, 2019.


Meet the Creative City Challenge 2019 Finalists

We are pleased to announce three finalists for the 7th annual Creative City Challenge, a showcase for local creative talent and a tangible symbol of the complex stories that make up the many narratives within our urban landscape. The theme for the 2019 Challenge is “We Are Here.”

Artist organizers Candida Gonzalez and MaryAnne Quiroz will transform The Commons into a Radical Playground. Through whimsical interactive animal sculptures inspired by dream creatures from the Caribbean, Mexico, the Pacific Islands and the indigenous cultures of Minnesota along with a summer of programming, participants will be invited to heal through play.

Candida Gonzalez and MaryAnne Quiroz, Radical Playground, concept sketch. Courtesy the artists.

For On This Spot, a team of visual artists, fabricators, and filmmaker Daniel Bergin, led by Molly Van Avery and Mike Hoyt, will create four multimedia story hubs that surround a large free-standing vertical map of Minneapolis, which is also a projection surface. Utilizing a network of deep community ties around Brian Coyle, Waite House, Pillsbury House Theatre, and Oak Park, the story hubs will illuminate historical and present day struggles and triumphs around racial justice and communities’ efforts toward self-determination. When the installation in The Commons is complete, the hubs will be distributed back to each center, becoming resources for residents to learn more about their neighborhoods’ complex identities.

Mike Hoyt and Molly Van Avery, On This Spot, concept sketch. Courtesy the artists.

Rory Wakemup’s We Are Still Here consists of an outdoor diorama of 21st century Native Peoples staged using the concept of  “Indigenous Futurism.” In a serious yet satirical manner, outfits and objects will be used to showcase a plethora of contemporary gadgets/weaponry for the 21st century non-violent warrior. With appropriations of pop-culture, renewable energy, naturally harvested materials and concepts from Native American culture, this diorama will inform the general public that we, Native Americans, are still here and will be here in to the future continually doing what we have always done, protecting our mother earth and our right to live on it.

Rory Wakemup, We Are Still Here, concept sketch. Courtesy the artist.

Finalists will be juried at the end of January, and the selected winner will install their project on The Commons during the summer, launching during the Northern Spark festival. The Creative City Challenge is a project of the Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy Program of the City of Minneapolis in collaboration with The Commons and Northern

How does my art fit into Northern Spark?

Givings of a Global Immigrant by Binyam Raba at Northern Spark 2018. Co-commissioned by African Economic Development Solutions. Photo: Sean Smuda

With the Northern Lights Program Council we made some changes to the Northern Spark Artist Open Call to pave a way for artists to participate in the festival without the need to perform or stage a piece for all 10 hours of the two night event.

Primarily, we’ve introduced two new categories: a call for short video works and a call for 20 minute performances.

Video Screening -We’re looking for video works with a 5 to 15 minute run time. Video works may be silent or have sound, be experimental or narrative or anything in between. If you have a feature-length work you would like to submit, please select a section or favorite scene that is no more than 15 minutes. If selected, your piece will be put into a reel with other works and looped during both nights of Northern Spark in each festival neighborhood. The same reel will be screened at each location. Locations: The Commons, American Indian Cultural Corridor, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center

Performance Stage – Apply for a 20 minute slot on a stage with basic sound equipment provided. This could be a spoken word set, a dance troupe performance, a choir, a puppet show, a sing-a-long, a magic act, a story slam, a set with your band. Apply for a slot on Friday or Saturday night.  Locations: American Indian Cultural Corridor, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center

And never fear, if durational work is your thing, we’ve got a spot for you too!  The call also seeks Participatory Installations; the kind of engagingfun, and thought-provoking projects Northern Spark is known for.

Got questions? Come to the Northern Spark 2019 Info Session 
Thursday, January 3, 2019
6:30 – 8 pm
Rondo Community Outreach Library, 461 Dale Street N, St. Paul, MN 55102
RSVP on Facebook.

Open Call Deadline: Monday, January 14, 11:59 pm CST


Support the artists who make our world amazing.

Celestial Amnesia: A Passage to Peace
 by Miko Simmons at Northern Spark on Nicollet, 2018.  Photo: Sean Smuda

In 2018 Northern supported, promoted, and produced the work of just over 300 artists through our program platforms. We are a low-overhead organization, so your donation goes directly to support artists in the creation of works both epic and intimate. 

Help us continue to support artists in 2019 and beyond!

Become a Sustaining Donor or contribute a one-time amount at the Northern site. All donations are tax deductible this tax year if received by Dec. 31, 2018. 

Thank you! 


Last Call: AOV9 up through Dec. 30, 2018

Installation shot of Ziyang Wu’s Smarter City 2 at Rochester Art Center. Photo: Rik Sferra.

You’ve got a few weeks left to catch the exhibition Art(ists) on the Verge 9. Don’t miss your chance to travel aboard the fictional subway train in Ziyang Wu’s Smarter City 2, or to make a electromagnetic field blocking pouch for your smart phone in Stephanie Lynn Rogers’ installation Security Blanket. AOV9 is on view at Rochester Art Center through December 30.
Read more about the artists here and get directions to Rochester Art Center here.

Thanks to the Jerome Foundation and Rochester Art Center for the support of this program.


News: artist opportunities from our colleagues

Red Eye’s Works-in-Progress
This program supports emerging performance makers in the creation of new work, to be presented as part of the New Works 4 Weeks Festival in May 2019.

Works-In-Progress provides artistic, production, and administrative developmental support over a six-month period for a cohort of 4-5 selected artists/artistic collaborations. Artists selected are supported with rehearsal space, providing the opportunity to explore and experiment with conceptual and staging ideas over an extended timeframe.
More info and link to the full guidelines here.
Application deadline: December 17

Fringe Festival Open Calls
Minnesota Fringe recently opened applications to produce in Fringe Festival and Family Fringe online. Artists interested in applying to one or both festivals should read the application information pages for each festival. Submissions are due February 14 for Fringe Festival and February 28, 2019, for Family Fringe.

For more information, go to