Business Manager

Northern is a collaborative, interactive media-oriented, arts organization from the Twin Cities for the world. We create platforms with and for artists, audiences, and partners to experiment with and experience innovative art in the public sphere.

Northern Spark is an all­ night arts festival.  Now in its 6th year, Northern Spark will light up Minneapolis on Saturday, June 11, 2016 with the theme of Climate Chaos / Climate Rising. This theme will continue into 2017 for the largest-ever Northern Spark along the Green Line on Saturday, June 10, 2017. For more information about the festival, visit

Job Description: Business Manager

The purpose of this job is to manage and increase earned revenue streams for Northern Spark. The Business Manager will work closely with the Artistic Director, Co-Director and Projects Manager in five areas: festival and project sponsors, festival program ads, food vendors, merchandise, and new revenue opportunities. Tasks include but are not limited to:

  • Creating earned revenue plan for NS17
  • Working with NS staff to create sponsorship proposals
  • Contacting businesses to solicit sponsorships of Northern Spark festival
  • Contacting businesses to solicit sponsorships of artwork
  • Contacting businesses to build awareness of the festival
  • Contacting businesses to solicit ad buys
  • Working with the Launch Party Coordinator and Host Committee to solicit sponsorship of the Launch Party
  • Soliciting and managing food vendor participation in Northern Spark
  • Work with NS staff to create merchandise plan
  • Working with the Volunteer Coordinator to solicit food donations for volunteers
  • Managing sponsor relations
  • Managing hosting of sponsors night of Northern Spark
  • Overseeing sponsor contracting and contract fulfillment
  • Attending weekly meeting with Artistic Director and other staff
  • Attending NS staff meetings monthly, or as often as desired. (Held weekly)
  • Maintaining in a timely manner all info systems requirements

Deadline to apply

Send resume and cover letter to by Friday, August 26, 2016

Desired skills and experience

  • Experience with sponsorships and other revenue generating programs
  • Experience working in a festival context
  • Experience working with arts and cultural organizations in the nonprofit sector.
  • Excellent organizational and communications skills
  • Leadership ability and project management skills
  • Good interpersonal skills; ability to work with and learn from different kinds of people
  • Ability to work with a small, busy team of colleagues and self direct when necessary
  • Ability to work a flexible schedule with occasional weekend and evening meetings
  • Experience with Google Docs, Asana, and CiviCRM are preferred but not necessary.


Fee: $24/hr

Estimated hours: varies from approximately 16-20 hours week September – March to 6-10 hours week April – June

Required availability: Able to work on-site for meetings Tuesday – Thursday and remotely on Mondays and Fridays. Occasional weekend and evening meetings. Must be available week of June 5-10, 2017

Contract duration: September, 2016  – June 30, 2017

Reports to: Artistic Director

Required equipment: Must have own computer and internet access.

Beyond Green: The Arts as a Catalyst for Sustainability

Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria

With Northern’s decision to devote the next two years of Northern Spark and related year-round programming to the effects of climate change under the rubric Climate Chaos | Climate Rising, team, we have been thinking a lot about the possible relations of art and artists to the future of humanity.

I was thrilled, therefore, to get the opportunity recently, with the support of the Bush Foundation, to attend a Salzburg Global Seminar (the 561st since 1947), Beyond Green: The Arts as a Catalyst for Sustainability. With a worldwide roster of incredibly accomplished attendees, it promised to be fertile grounds for research and thoughtful discussion.

Reading List

The Spirit of Sovereignty Woven into the Fabric of Tribal Communities: Culture Bearers As Agents of Change By Lori Pourier (Oglala Lakota)

Seminar attendees were asked to provide links to resources about the arts and sustainability, and these ranged from “A Good Life in a Sustainable Nordic Region. Nordic Strategy for Sustainable Development.Nordic Council of Ministers” to Local Plant Knowledge for Livelihoods: An Ethnobotanical Survey in the Garhwal Himalaya, Uttarakhand, India” to “The Spirit of Sovereignty Woven into the Fabric of Tribal Communities: Culture Bearers As Agents of Change.” In other words from policy documents to research findings to documentation of artists’ projects.

One unsurprising thing that comes through in much of the reading is the amazing lack of broadly articulated cultural policy in the United States compared to almost anywhere else in the world. What would it be like to live in a country where arts and culture are enshrined as pillars of development, such as in countries that take the U.N’s Agenda 21 as a legitimate document? What would it be like to not have to justify art as something more than an economic driver – as important and valuable as that is? I am not so naive as to believe that everything is hunky dory elsewhere, but the starting points of the value(s) of arts and culture are so different in some countries, and that’s a difference that makes a difference. That’s a difference that could be a matter of societal resilience in the face of the inevitable effects of climate change.

One of the most fascinating readings, which really attempted to tackle some of the underlying and debatable philosophical principles at stake, was Adrienne Goehler’s “Conceptual Thoughts on Establishing a Fund for Aesthetics and Sustainability.” Her broad set of drivers for the necessity such funding included “ten imperatives”: democratize, think and act, liberate, spawn, become fluid, listen and observe and publicize, charge, perceive, combine and link, admit.

One thing that Goehler emphasized, which is near and dear to team Northern Lights is that

“Sustainability is not understood by individuals as a space of possibility because it is not yet linked to the sensuality and passion of personal action, but is still mainly seen as an appeal to the superego or the well-filled wallet.”

and of course, we are in solidarity with:

“Sustainability is the result of thinking new things and seeing the familiar from a new perspective.”

She even takes on the relevance of the policies I was lusting for earlier:

“The sustainability debate and their advocates, the Agenda 21 initiatives are clearly stuck in a dead end because in spite of their comprehensive, indeed holistic, approach, they are still perceived as being restricted largely to the field of ecology, and they themselves do not understand sustainability as a genuinely cultural challenge. …  [According to the Tutzinger Manifesto] in order to make sustainability a life force, ‘it is critical to integrate participants with the ability to bring ideas, visions, and existential experiences alive in socially recognizable symbols, rituals, and practices.’”

As we like to say at team Northern Lights: ““People need facts to make informed decisions, but it’s stories and culture that change people’s minds—and behavior. Artists create connection points to issues that may seem tired or impossibly contentious. We follow them in through beauty, wonder, and curiosity and quickly find ourselves engaged in a complex issue seen differently.”

What follows is not intended to be complete in any way. A formal report of the Seminar will be published in the near future, and these represent an inadequate sampling of some highlights.

Artists Inspiring Change

Opening Conversation: Artists Inspiring Change: Alexis Frasz, Kalyanee Mam, Frances Whitehead

For the opening conversation of the Seminar, Kalyanee Mam, spoke about her film A River Changes Course, which was the winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at Sundance, and “tells the story of three families living in contemporary Cambodia as they face hard choices forced by rapid development and struggle to maintain their traditional ways of life as the modern world closes in around them.” And Frances Whitehead gave a version of her Plenary talk for Cultures In Sustainable Futures in Helsinki, which covered such work as The Embedded Artist Project, Slow Clean-Up, and a long term project The 606.

The work and presentations seemed so different – personal, documentary, pov and systematic, theoretic, interventionist – that at first blush it was hard to imagine where the conversation could crossover. One comment, however, put into perspective a lesson that would be repeated over and over during the week. Kaly’s work was, in essence, about pre-development or “during-development,” and Frances’s about a post-development situation. Two sides of the same coin. The forests and fisheries of Cambodia had not yet been completely devastated, but the trajectory was clear, and in Chicago and Gary, nature had to be reintroduced into the industrialized, designed, built-on landscape. How can what has happened in the North be in dialog with the majority world, which is all too often the downstream recipient of our actions? What do we both need to learn?

Raising Awareness: International Mother Tongue Day 

Shahidul Alam, Raising Awareness and Catalyzing Public Engagement. Photo: Salzburg Global Seminar

Shahidul Alam spoke of his photography in the service of political consequences and made the appropriately pointed point about not feeling any less “developed” or almost any other term that is applied to Bangladesh all the time. He lives in the “majority world,” and it is important that this is recognized. As he put it at one point: “Until lions find their storyteller, stories about hunting will always glorify the hunter.” And the storyteller – as we learned more about later – often works through analogy. Shahidul spoke about the careful planning that went into an apparently innocent photography exhibit that included a photograph of a rice paddy. Beautiful and “benign” seeming, the title of the exhibition, “Crossfire” provided a completely different context for the people of Bangladesh, who were experiencing a horror of extra-judicial killings at the time.


In the afternoon, Pireeni Sundaralingam, a poet and neuroscientist, spoke mostly from the neuroscience side of her brain brain about if we’re truly trying to change people’s behavior, what do we know about behavior and how to change it from an experimental perspective?

Things That Don’t Work

  • Repeat messaging
  • Appeals to logic
  • Arguments based on the lack of time in the future
  • High intensity emotional messaging

Let me repeat that…

Needless to say, everyone of us has likely used each of these techniques to reinforce our messaging about the urgency of climate change. Pireeni went through a series of hilarious and sobering experiments, mostly in the last decade, which essentially proved the ineffectiveness of each of these strategies.

So what does work? I was unable to capture all of the points Pireeni made, but one critical one is simple: the brain is an analogy device. The brain, from a behavioral point of view, is nothing like a logic machine. It responds to analogies and metaphor, like the language found in poetry or photography or art. If we want to change people’s behavior, ultimately it will be through stories and analogies and metaphor: art. Not repeated warnings about the coming disaster and what a logical response would be.


The City As a Driver of Change

On Day 3, we shifted from a focus on individual projects to more systemic responses, particularly in relation to the city as the site of more than 50% of the world’s population.

There were great presentations all day long from artists, policymakers, and activists around the world, but I want to call out some notes of the talk by  Marco KusumawijayaDirector, Rujak Centre for Urban Studies, Jakarta, Indonesia. Like many of the speakers, he reinforced the dictum that sustainability is a cultural problem, but he also suggested that the city – thinking of it as a cultural platform, almost – could and should be concerned with more than development. He referred to the “brutality of development.” The city should be a driver for solidarity and equity as well as a critique of nationalism and globalization. Development in this context should be building more commons. The centerpiece of community is the commons. Simple, really, but felt like an amazing lever to wrest the conversation away from all the arts and economic development palaver, especially in the United States.

Encouraging Bolder Policymaking

Not only does much of the rest of the world have cultural policymaking, but they are self-reflective about how to make it bolder!

Camilla Bausch, who is a long-standing member of the German delegation to the United Nations climate negotiations made particularly heartening comments about the how of bolder policymaking, suggesting that after the failure of Copenhagen, state actors realized they cannot do it alone regarding what needs to be done about climate change. Even at the policy level, non-state actors are critical. For example, the COP21 designated negotiators for COP21 in Paris never would have moved to 1.5 degree temperature rise as the maximum goal, if it wasn’t for the external pressure – then and the months and years leading up to Paris – of non-state actors. Projects like Climate Chaos | Climate Rising are important not only in terms of individual behavior and systems intervention but also as both goad and support for bolder policymaking.

We Are What We Eat

The last program I want to mention was a “fireside chat” moderated, passionately, by  Pavlos Georgiadis, an Ethnobotanist, AgriFood Author & Climate Tracker.  

Prairie Rose Seminole,  a Prevention Specialist for The Boys and Girls Club of the Three Affiliated

Tribes, New Town, ND, gave a sobering presentation about the food deserts so common on Indian reservations and the endemic health problems that this gives rise to. At the same time, there is a bountiful history of traditional foods and healing that Prairie Rose is dedicated to reinvigorating, serving us all a tea o fBear root (osha root), bergamot and grey sage.

Kamal Mouzawak is the founder of Souk el Tayeb, Beirut. Nominally the first farmers market in Lebanon, in reality it is a way for a fractured community to come together to prepare meals and eat together. Tayeb holds several meanings in Arabic: “good”, “tasty” and “goodhearted” when talking about a person. Over time, Souk el Tayeb participants’ shared humanity becomes more important than their different ethnicities and religions and good and tasty food becomes an appreciation for goodhearted people.

Rounding out the panel, journalist, activist, and film director David Gross spoke about his project Wastecooking. Inspired by the sad fact that the food thrown away in Europe alone would be enough to feed all of the world’s hungry twice over, David “has whipped up a five-part web series and regularly organizes cook-ins and performances in public spaces that serve up a critical stance on consumerism.” Sadly, we did not get to try his Apple Compote a la Dumpster Diver, but you can find the recipe here, if you are interested.


Thanks to everyone for their generous participation and sharing of knowledge and experience: Shahidul Alam, Natasha Athanasiadou, Camilla C. Bausch, Fatima Zahra Bousso-Kane, Catherine Cullen, Teresa Dillon, Cecily Engelhart, Carolina Ferres, Torben Florkemeier, Alexis Frasz, Pavlos Georgiadis, Christine Gitau, Rebecca Kneale Gould, David M. Gross, Marcus Hagermann, Etelle Higonnet, Singh Intrachooto, Seitu Jones, Vrouyr Joubanian, Sofie Regitze Kattrup, Oleg Koefoed, Marco Kusumawijaya, Thomas Layer-Wagner, Brandie N. Macdonald, Kalyanee Mam, Anee-Marie Meister, Zayd Minty, Kamal Mouzawak, Thiago Ackel (Mundano), Omar Nagati, Chukwudum Odenigbo, Yasmine Ostendorf, Kajsa Li Paludan, Rachel Plattus, Robert Praxmarer, Michael Premo, Ferdinand Richard, Anais Roesch, Ania Rok, Alain Ruche, Rachel Schragis, Anupama Sekhar, Prairie Rose Seminole, Margaret Shiu, Holly Sidford, Regina R. Smith, Francis A. Sollano, Pireeni Sundaralingam, Elizabeth Thompson, Alison Tickell, Christian Biaus, Ben Twist, Anamaria Vrabie, Frances Whitehead, Rise Wilson.


Thanks to the Bush Foundation, which supported my attendance at Beyond Green, to the Salzburg Global Seminar for organizing the event, and to Edward T. Cone Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Bush Foundation, and Red Bull Amaphiko for their support of the event.




I recently had the opportunity to be in Paris at the end of the COP21 – the 21st annual Congress of Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change – which resulted in an historic accord on December 12 by 195 countries for planned reductions in CO2 emissions. My primary mission was to look at as much of the parallel arts program, know as ARTCOP21, which accompanied the Congress. While I arrived too late to attend the core cultural symposium, I had the opportunity to experience a number of works and, perhaps more importantly, think about Northern Spark’s focus on climate change in 2016 and 2017. Why? How? To what end? Stay tuned for some additional information about Northern Spark in our January newsletter. In the meantime, here are some thoughts about what I saw in Paris.


On Saturday morning, I headed to the D12 protest near the Arc de Triomphe. It was extremely circumscribed, and we weren’t allowed to actually march anywhere. There was the usual assortment of DIY signs with clever slogans, but the real energy for me was the early-on speeches by First Nation representatives, powerfully underscoring one of the central problematics of climate change – its “downstream” effects on non- and less-polluting populations. Climate change is inextricably a social justice issue.

Michael Pinsky, Breaking the Surface

One of the featured artworks in Paris was Michael Pinsky’s installation along the Ourcq Canal. He extricated various items from the canal, from shopping carts to chairs to lamps, and mounted them on the surface. The nighttime publicity images have a floating mystery to them, but in person it seemed like a repetitive line of junk with little to make you think hard about climate change or even garbage. My take away: spectacle can be effective in attracting attention, but something more is necessary to make you pay attention.

Michael Pinsky, Breaking the Surface

Michael Pinsky, Breaking the Surface

 Andrea Polli, Particle Falls

I curated Andrea’s Particle Falls as part of the 2010 01SJ Biennial, so it was a pleasure to see that 5 years on, the idea of a waterfall of C02 particle emissions, modeled in real time, was as mesmerizing as ever. In its invisibility, carbon dioxide does not have the same horror as belching soot, for instance, but Particle Falls helps us visualize the enormity of this atmospheric respiration, as something overwhelmingly powerful and seemingly everlasting.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Exit

At the nearby Palais de Tokyo, besides two standout shows of the work of John Giorno and Ragnar Kjartansson, there was an immersive animation about climate change and migration, Exit, by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin, who created Moveable Type in the lobby of the New York Times building – see it if you haven’t – and Laura Kurgan, Director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University. This high-powered team created Exit “based on an idea by Paul Virilio,” who introduces the piece in a short video walking – moving – somewhere quayside talking about how climate change will displace 1 billion people and “all of history is on the move again.” After a 20 minute wait to get in, Exit does not disappoint with an Imax-like update of a migration-focused Inconvenient Truth. It’s hard to remember the details, or even fully comprehend them at the time, so quickly does the piece move along, but I think the virtue of such a virtuoso data visualization is how it leaves us emotionally open to the global connectedness of sectarian conflicts and localized climate catastrophes. It makes it make sense, and we can fill in the facts afterwards. They have a place to fit.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 9.59.18 PM

 Les Radiolaires, White Cube

At Cite des Sciences et de l’industrie, alongside an informative “fact-based” exhibition Climate 360 degrees and a series of boringly beautiful photographs of “exotic” climate change locales was an intriguing two-part installation by Les Radiolaires (Marine Dillard, Caroline Gaussens, Denis Pegaz Blanc, and Xavier Tiret), winners of a competition based on the theme “when the Earth and its inhabitants have solved the climate problem.” The didactic reads:

“In the White Cube structure made of refrigerators, a Creature moves about in front of pictures of cooked dishes from the past. The anthropophagous being no longer leaves its cube and spends its time exercising: it needs the energy that it expends and immediately recycles to power its refrigerators and screens. It exchanges the carbon dioxide it breathes out and methane and excrement it produces for the oxygen release by the Algumans in their Crystal Ball.


Radiolaires, White Cube

Radiolaires, White Cube

Les Radiolaires, Crystal Ball

“In the Crystal Ball tiny humans called Algumans (half-algae, half-human) use only solar energy. They move slowly, reproduce and manufacture everything they need themselves. The subtle architecture of the bubble biosphere that shelters them represents a ball and lung, whose breathing gently carries them from one pole of their world to the other. The Algumans emit oxygen that is exchanged with the creature of the White Cube (WC), so creating a perfect symbiosis that maintains a harmonious, peaceful equilibrium between their biosphere and the WC habitat. Daydreams, leisure activities, mechanics and a diversified pattern of motion lie at the heart of their vital world, ensuring their healthy development. There the Sun is king. The Algumans enjoy the world they have created in their image, where well-being, lightness and contemplation reign. Here and there, they also sip a concoction produced by the neighboring Creature and savour dishes of a mysterious nature…”

The symbolism of the piece is beyond obvious, but its virtue is that if the White Cube is clearly the “business as usual” option in climate change parlance, the Crystal Ball slyly insinuates there is no Eden we can return to. Regardless of how Eden-like the future may be, it will be require some radical accommodations.

Pedro Marzorati, OUPPSSS!!

Pedro Marzorati’s submerged blue men of Where the Tides Ebb and Flow  was, along with Olafur Eliasson’s Ice Watchone of the iconic images of ARTCOP21, but OUPPSSS!! was a different piece in the under-repair Saint-Mery Church as part of a group exhibition. While not as memorable, I ended up thinking that there is an interesting parallelism between a church under repair and an earth in dire need of remediation, and it’s important that not every installation is at the Eiffel Tower or other heritage site. Climate change is indiscriminate. Nothing is too valuable, nowhere too obscure to transmogrify.

Pedro Marzorati, OUPPSSS!!

Pedro Marzorati, OUPPSSS!!

Clay Apenouvon, Le film noir de Lampedusa

Clay Apenouvon, Le film noir de Lampedusa

 Hassan Darsi, Le Projet de la Maquette

At the Pompidou, as I wandered through the permanent collection, a number of works had special ARTCOP21 labels, as if someone had retrospectively curated a selection of works with additional commentary about, broadly speaking, climate change. The “regular” label for Darsi’s maquette reads:

“In 2002, Hassan Darsi embarked on his Projet de la Maquette to record the state into which Casablanca’s Parc de l’Hermitage had fallen since its creation between 1917 and 1927. Administrative negligence had allowed the construction of buildings and the shrinkage of the park. Faced with this disaster, Darsi had the idea of an architectural model that would show the park exactly as it was, inviting anyone interested to join him in making it. A petition and newspaper articles were organised as well, and on the day of the opening the wali of Greater Casablanca promised to restore the park.”

To this tale of the triumph of relational art practice, the COP21 label added:

“Rather than modelling [sic] a future, this maquette makes visible the death of a garden. This is a campaigning work intended to help save a historic park as a green lung for the modern city, a vision of ruin that nonetheless captures the poetry of a place resistant to encroaching urbanism.”

Hassan Darsi, Le Projet de la Maquette

Hassan Darsi, Le Projet de la Maquette

Whether or not this is a stirring example of fighting climate change, it seems to me not only reasonable but necessary that through the lens of climate crisis, we reevaluate everything, regardless of how mundane. We literally must see the world in a new light in light of what we now know or can know if we chose to.

Listen to the city in a new timbre

We often talk about how one of the effects of a night of Northern Spark is to “see the city in a new light.” Since year 1, there has also been a remarkable range of sound and music projects from Phillip Blackburn’s festival opening Car Horn Fanfare to Monica Haller’s contemplative Can You Listen to the Same River Twice?

2015 is no exception, starting, of course, starting with Adam Levy, And the Professors, and the Mill City Summer Opera at the opening Northern Spark Launch Party (tickets) segueing to Cloud Cult’s outdoor concertpresented with tpt Lowertown Line on the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza, and ending at dawn with Brian Engel of Hotpants and Hipshaker Minneapolis fame at the Pancake Feed (tickets).

Brian Engel, Greg Waletski, and George Rodriguez constitute a dense portion of the Minneapolis vinyl firmament.

In between are a medley of sounds for the ear:


David Andree, Josh Mason, Jonathan Kaiser, Nathan McLaughlin, John Marks, Casey Deming, and Ryan Potts (Aquarelle), An Overture in Seven Partsa long-form continuous sound composition that will be created in real time by a collective of seven different artists recording layered accompaniment onto the same pair of asynchronous tape loops.

Charanga Tropical, Dance Party with Charanga Tropicala nine-piece ensemble featuring musicians from throughout the Americas.

Mary Ellen Childs, Ear and Nose where participants will experience music paired with specific scents.

Dreamland Faces’ live score for Epics of the Toilers: Working Class Silent Films.

D. Mort Eicher, Disco Roller Printing Party: roller-skate to the disco sounds of the 1970s while you experiment with several printmaking techniques.

John Keston with Ai MN students,, Instant Composer: Mad-libbed Music: write compositions at a computer kiosk for an ensemble of improvising musicians.

Miko Simmons, In Ruins

Kathy McTavish, mill city requiem: for solo instrument & distancea virtual “media orchestra” to receive sine waves, pulsed images, vector sketches, and sounds based on your distance from a live musician.

MN Orchestra String Quartet, From Amber Frozenentrancing music from composer and DJ, Mason Bates influenced as much by today’s electronica as it is from Indonesian gamelan.

 Richard Mueller & Stefon BIONIK Taylor, You Are Hear: music fills your ears in a three-dimensional space, and as you turn around you can hear and see individual virtual sounds and shapes all around you, some closer and louder, others further away and quieter.

Miko S. Simmons, In Ruins: A History of the Future’s Pasta 3D submersive projected multimedia performance that weaves the audience through a transformative journey into our collective cultural consciousness.

Sumunar musicians, Prince Rama’ s Journey, November 2014. Photo Ray Mailoor Photography.

Sumunar Gamelan and Dance Ensembles, Klenengan – All-Night Gamelan Performance of traditional and contemporary Javanese gamelan music

Voices in the Dark,multiple singing ensembles throughout the night: Magpies & Ravens, Potluck Jams, Artemis, Hymnos,  Academy of Voices, Summer Singers, Elizabethan Syngers, ENCORE!, and Prairie Fire Ladies’ Choir.

Northern Lights: Our First Five Years

Creative City Challenge Info Session Slides

Monday, December 1 at 4:30 pm is the deadline to submit your proposal to the Creative City Challenge. Here is the direct link for the online submission form. These are slides from the Information Session about the Challenge. If you have questions, email

Creative City Challenge Info Session

Info session: Wednesday, November 5, 6 pm, Room 102F, Minneapolis Convention Center

Find out about the $75,000 Creative City Challenge. How can you make the best proposal possible? What will the jury be looking for? What are the pragmatic issues of producing a project on the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza? What does it mean for the public to participate in your project? What are some of the ways to think about site specificity? What has been the experience in past years?

Jeff Johnson, Executive Director of the Minneapolis Convention Center, Gulgun Kayim, Director of the Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy Program of the City of Minneapolis, and Steve Dietz, Artistic Director of Northern will be on hand to talk about the competition and to answer your questions.

Come with your questions. There will be a chance to tour the Plaza at 5:30 pm before the info session at at 7 pm afterwards.

Creative City Challenge call at

Free parking for registered attendees. (3rd Ave. Ramp only

Wednesday, November 5, 6 – 7 pm, Room 102F, Minneapolis Convention Center

Tours of Convention Center Plaza at 5:30 and 7:15 pm

Participate: Creative City Challenge Discovery Day

As part of the Creative City Challenge’s summer-long programming, there are three themed activity days: Play Day, July 19; Discovery Day, August 16; and Maker Day, September 13.

For Play Day, over a dozen artists performed and presented projects at the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza for more than 750 people throughout the course of the day.

There are still a few spots open to present or perform at Discovery Day. Email with your project and for more information. Artist stipends available.

Survey Takers: Creative City Challenge Days

Northern in coordination with the City of Minneapolis is hiring individuals for the following tasks:

Survey Seeker

Administer a short survey to the Creative City Challenge* attendees on September 13th at the Minneapolis Convention Center plaza.  The shift would include attending an hour long survey training followed by a three hour working session.  Must be friendly and willing to approach and speak with a diverse group of people.   Experience with survey administration or canvasing is preferred.  Must be willing to fill a quota of 15-20 surveys and be willing to follow instructions.

The currently available shifts are:

  • Saturday, 9/13: 9am-1pm ($50 pay, 5 shifts open)
  • 12pm-4pm ($50 pay, 5 shift open)

If you are interested in working this event, please email no later than Thursday, August 14 (shifts will be filled on a first come basis) and include:

  1. Your name, email, and phone number;
  2. Which shifts you’d like to work (you can work more than one); and
  3. Include any previous survey experience you may have.

Positions will be confirmed as received (those interested must email no later than 5 pm on Thursday, August 14p).

*Creative City Challenge is collaboration between Northern Lights, the Minneapolis Convention Center and the Arts, Culture, and Creative Economy at the City of Minneapolis.  It is a competition for Minnesota artists and architects to create a destination artwork, which acts as a sociable and participatory platform for summer-long onsite activities. More information about Discovery Day.

Jim Campbell: Rhythms of Perception

Jim Campbell: Rhythms of Perception at the Museum of the Moving Image, March 21 – June 1

Guest Curator: Steve Dietz

Jim Campbell’s art gets under your skin. Standing in the middle of the gallery, you can see nearly all of his work. The odd thing is that for much of it, as you get closer, the work becomes more abstract. As you move back, it comes more clearly into focus. There is something magical about this, like finally locking in on the stars of a constellation in the vast night sky, suddenly recognizable as a dipper or belt or chair. But only barely. Waveringly. Profoundly.

San Francisco-based artist Jim Campbell is a pioneer in the use of digital technology in art, creating custom computer chips and electronics for most of his works. Born in 1956 in Chicago, Campbell graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics. A former Silicon Valley engineer, with more than a dozen patents in the field of video image processing, he turned to visual art in the late 1980s. He became interested in the brain’s ability to recognize a scene or identify the human form with minimal information.

While Campbell’s work is partly autobiographical, incorporating family portraits and home movie footage, it also elicits a personal response from the viewer, as the primitive visuals trigger an impulse to imagine and insert personal memories into the image.

Jim Campbell: Rhythms of Perception presents 29 years of Campbell’s work, from his first experimental film to his most recent self portrait. These works reveal a portrait of the artist as inventor, as technician, as engineer, as scientist, and ultimately as artist.

Jim Campbell: Rhythms of Perception is organized by guest curator Steve Dietz, Founder and Artistic Director of Northern

This exhibition is made possible with generous support from Andrew H. Tisch and an anonymous donor. The Museum also gratefully acknowledges the City of New York for ongoing support.

Creative City Challenge public presenation

Monday, February 10, 6:00pm, Rapson Hall, School of Architecture and Design on the East Bank campus of the University of Minnesota

In collaboration with former Mayor R.T. Rybak’s “Mayor 101” class at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, the three Creative City Challenge finalists will present their proposals to the public. The presentation will feature a facilitated discussion with Kjersti Monson, Director of Long Range Planning for the City of Minneapolis, the artists and and the attendees.

The event is free and open to the public.

Volunteer at Northern Spark

Do you love striking up a conversation? Are you that person who always gets asked for directions? Volunteering for Northern Spark 2013 could be the thing for you. Be a part of Minnesota’s newest tradition — YOU can help light up the night!

Centered in Lowertown, Saint Paul, this night-long festival is a portal to a new experience of the Twin Cities. With nearly 80 artist projects indoors and out, there will be a lot to see on June 8!


STAFFING AN INFO HUB: give information about Northern Spark art and events to festival goers.

ROVING INFO GUIDE: help with the flow of festival foot traffic. Info Guides are present and available to deliver on-site information about schedules and area events, give directions, and distribute programs to festival goers.

SURVEY SEEKER: talk with the public and collect feedback about the festival experience.

In addition to gaining an inside perspective on the festival and meeting artists, all volunteers will receive a fabulous Northern Spark T-shirt and will be eligible for exciting prizes.


Visit to learn more about the benefits of volunteering.

Sign up to volunteer at


Contact our volunteer coordinator at

Join a kazoo band

Perform with us at Northern Spark 2013! From sundown on June 8th to late into the night, our intrepid Kazoo Band will parade through Lowertown, waving artist-made banners and entertaining the public, all while encouraging them to support Northern Spark with donations. We’ll learn a few pop songs that relate to money and giving, and you do not need to be able to read music to participate.

Kazoo Band performance during Northern Spark is organized into two sets: First set is from 9pm to midnight, second set is from 1am- 3am. You can participate in one or both sets. Kazoo Band performers get all of the perks of volunteering– food truck tickets, a free T-shirt, entry into prize drawings, and invitations to Northern Spark gatherings. You’ll also be able to keep your kazoo.

If you’re interested, contact Molly Balcom Raleigh at We’re accepting volunteer performers through May 17. Volunteers are required to participate in 2 practice sessions between May 20- June 5. Participation will be collaborative and fun– bring your ideas! 


Listen to Art(ists) On the Verge

Some great interviews by Ned Hurley with Art(ists) On the Verge artists prior to the opening of their exhibition on Saturday, May 4 at The Soap Factory.

Christopher Houltberg

Sarah Julson

Mad King Thomas

Asia Ward

Anthony Warnick


Art(ists) On the Verge 5 Fellows

Northern announces the recipients of the 5th round of Art(ists) on the Verge commissions (AOV5). AOV5 is an intensive, mentor-based fellowship program for 5 Minnesota-based, emerging artists or artist groups working experimentally at the intersection of art, technology, and digital culture with a focus on network-based practices that are interactive and/or participatory.

Artists: Katie Hargrave, Alison Hiltner, Aaron Marx, Peter Sowinski, Emily Stover

Congratulations from the jury: Steve Dietz, Artistic Director, Northern; Rudolf Frieling, Curator Media Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Ben Heywood, Executive Director, The Soap Factory; Piotr Szyhalski, Professor Media Arts, Minneapolis College of Art and Design; Yesomi Umolu, Curatorial Fellow, Visual Arts, Walker Art Center.

AOV5 artists will exhibit their work at the Soap Factory, March 2014.

Art(ists) On the Verge is generously supported by the Jerome Foundation.