What needs to change on the Minnesota arts scene? Artists and leaders weigh in

Here's what Twin Cities movers and makers told us.

We posed this question to a variety of Twin Cities movers and makers. We also asked them: What has changed for the better on the local arts scene? Here’s what they told us.

Readers: If you could change one thing about the arts and entertainment scene, what would it be? Put your two cents in the survey form below or at startribune.com/fallart.

You asked, we answered

Wing Young Huie

Wing Young Huie, photographer and gallery owner

“The most interesting art today is happening in nontraditional art spaces: in storefronts, living rooms, neighborhoods, nature, on the street, the backs of bicycles.”

Sandy Agustin

Sandy Agustin arts administrator and artist

“I love that there are all kinds of pop-up events around the state — created in urban and rural places. In Milan, Minn., they have used theater, poetry and other cultural forms to bridge the cultural differences between the established Nordic community and the recent influx of Micronesians. In Worthington, two artists generated an Artmobile to connect [with] underserved communities.”

Luverne Seifert

Luverne Seifert, actor and founder of Sod House Theater

“With the exception of a few theater companies like the Moving Company, Four Humors and Open Eye Figure Theater, the Twin Cities doesn’t have a strong representation of groups that create bold new work. I look at edgy young companies that come to the Walker — groups like Nature Theater of Oklahoma — and although they are not always successful with their work, they are daring, provocative risk takers who push the definition of what theater can be. I crave for a young group to develop here who will consistently present new work that will challenge Twin Cities audiences and win our support.”

J.M. Culver

J.M. Culver visual artist

“Our local art scene does a great job engaging artists and art lovers with exhibitions and events, but we need a more conscious effort in creating specific experiences to attract and captivate the attention of serious collectors to help our artists and community flourish.”

Keisha Williams

Keisha Williams, Minneapolis Institute of Arts curatorial assistant

“People are rightfully asking who museums are for, who museums serve and whose culture should be cared for and exhibited. Museums can’t operate on a field of dreams/open door policy, but show all visitors that the museum is theirs, a place where they are seen and heard, not simply a place for them to visit.”

Marcela Lorca

Marcela Lorca, artistic director of Ten Thousand Things Theater

“I wish there was a city or statewide website with artistic events as its sole focus. It would be an informative and easily navigable resource that identifies current performances, with descriptions, reviews and links to ticket purchases. This would create a sense of cultural cohesiveness, reflect the abundance of art in our community, and make live performances as accessible to citizens as other forms of entertainment.”

Julie Schumacher

Julie Schumacher, writer and professor

“I’d love to see more historical markers and more statuary [of writers and artists] beyond Charles Schulz in St. Paul.”

Sun Yung Shin

Sun Yung Shin writer, editor and educator

“Many of us have noticed, experienced and celebrated the increase in writers of color. One thing that needs to change is the whiteness of leadership in medium and larger organizations. Also, Minneapolis needs a poet laureate.”

Arleta Little

Arleta Little, McKnight Foundation program officer

“More artists from diverse communities are exercising agency, forming organizations and establishing their own platforms for performance and distribution. They are not waiting for existing and established institutions to grant them opportunities.”

Laura Zabel

Laura Zabel, executive director of Springboard for the Arts.

“If we are going to realize the benefits that art and culture bring to our community, then we need to make sure that more artists, and especially artists who have historically not benefited from the nonprofit arts ecosystem, can make a living and a life. Artists, just like other entrepreneurs, need access to capital, health care, housing and opportunities to connect to their communities. We need for artists, and everyone, to be able to stop using GoFundMe as health insurance.”

Alanna Morris Van Tassel

Alanna Morris Van Tassel, dancer and choreographer

“The long-underground hip-hop community here is starting to build new platforms to present their own genius and engage important questions. I wonder if they know the financial resources that are out here to support them. I would like to see some sort of resource fair happen in the near future. The art that more Minnesotans should be trying to see is here, and it’s pushing through the ground!”

Richard Moody

Richard Moody fashionista and tastemaker

“The global perspectives of our Asian, African and Hispanic neighbors have expanded Midwest sensibilities. Art is less boring. Matchy-matchy is out. Ambience engineering is in. Today’s art [aficionados] celebrate their own personal brand and experiences through quirky and eclectic pieces.”

Isabel Nelson

Isabel Nelson, actor, director and theater founder

“Those of us who are white (and/or cisgender/able-bodied/straight, etc.) need to be doing more work as audience members and patrons to actively seek out, see and support work that reflects experiences other than our own. We are so accustomed to having our own stories reflected back to us, I think this can often lead us to assume our experience of being human is universal (at best) or more important than others’ (at worst). But being human is not just a state, it’s a muscle. And one of the great gifts of theater is that it demands we exercise that muscle by expanding our understanding of (and empathy with) the range of human experience through different stories.”

Ali Sultan

Ali Sultan, comedian

“When I started comedy in 2012, we didn’t have near this amount of diversity and female comics, so that’s definitely a positive change. The talent pool is a lot larger, too, and we have a lot more showcases produced by comedians, which makes everyone better comics.”

Shanan Custer

Shanan Custer, actor, writer and director

“Theater companies for women, for one example, should not be the only ones thinking about the women in the room and the messages about women in the work. There is an “us and them” mentality in our town. When we separate ourselves, we lose sight of the fact that we are part of a larger community and it diminishes our individual voices — for inclusion, accommodations, safe workspaces, pay equity and diverse work.”

Andrew Walesch

Andrew Walesch, bandleader and Crooners Supper Club music director

“The arts would exist in a vacuum if it were not for the passionate, hungry audiences we have here, and a media that covers the arts like they mean something. So even if we lose a club like Vieux Carre [the St. Paul jazz venue that closed this summer], we have new clubs coming on and a lot of demand here for world-class music.”

Jay Owen Eisenberg

Jay Owen Eisenberg, actor/director

“I’ve observed leadership across multiple institutions shift their focus from talking to listening. ... Once this listening incites leadership to action, and once that action is bolstered by clear standards of accountability, then we’re really in business.”

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