Hennepin Theatre Trust COVID-19 Updates

Hennepin Theatre Trust and Clear Channel Outdoor present Art Connects Us artists for July on metro billboards

July 1, 2020

The digital artwork project that offers messages of hope and gratitude during COVID-19 will also feature designs addressing social injustice

MINNEAPOLIS (July 1, 2020) — Hennepin Theatre Trust today announced the July artists for Art Connects Us, a digital public art project in partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor. The project features original artwork by Minnesota-based artists presenting images and messages of hope to those affected by COVID-19 and gratitude for the people working on the front lines.

The Trust has expanded the scope of Art Connects Us to include reactions to the local and national conversations demanding the breakdown of system racism. “This injustice in our city and beyond must not be ignored,” said Mark Nerenhausen, president and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust. “While the arts can be a source of unity, we are committed joining other voices in the community that are calling for equity and justice in Minnesota.”

Joan Vorderbruggen, director of Hennepin Theatre District Engagement, reached out to artists for additional designs to reflect those themes. Due to the positive response, designs focusing on social justice will now be included in rotations for July and August. “We are grateful to our artists for the opportunity to expand our Art Connects Us billboard project to include meaningful responses to the killing of George Floyd and the worldwide outcry for change,” said Vorderbruggen.” The ten previously scheduled designs relating COVID-19 for July and August will be featured in September.

Daniel Ballard, Minneapolis branch president of Clear Channel Outdoor said that they welcome the chance to engage in the community conversation. By providing resources through its roadside signs throughout the five-county metro area, Art Connects Us reaches millions of people on 60 digital roadside signs throughout the five-county metro area each month.

Art Connects Us launched in April as a pilot project originally scheduled to run for six weeks. Following its initial success, the Trust was among 44 nonprofit organizations to receive a OneMPLS Pandemic Response Grant from the Minneapolis Foundation which enabled the Trust to extend the project throughout the summer by featuring additional paid artists.

Many of the artists come from diverse backgrounds from the Trust’s broad network of visual artists who have participated in previous Trust public art projects. Both emerging and internationally renowned artists are represented in Art Connects Us with 50% from communities of color, LGBTQ, disabled, seniors and students. Collectively, the digital artwork will showcase a sense of hope and motivation during these uncertain times.

Art Connects Us will feature works from ten artists each month from now through September. July’s lineup includes:

  • Ta-Coumba T. Aiken, revered artist who believes in community-building and beautification by evoking a positive spirt to hear the hearts of the people and their communities
  • Face Me Por Favor, Victoria Eidelsztein and Matt Litwin, street artists and muralists whose artwork focuses on educating, building bridges and bring beauty to the urban environment
  • Andrew K. Hammond, artist with expressive collages that provoke thought while expressing the people in the African American diaspora
  • Christopher Harrison, a Minneapolis visual artist, illustrator, graphic designer and Museum Arts Educator at Walker Art Center who has created public art for North Minneapolis
  • Galen Higgins, a Minnesota-raised dancer, photographer and designer who primarily creates images with dancers
  • Kulture Klub Collaborative, engages art and artistic practice to provide enriching opportunities for youth experiencing homelessness
  • Mary Plaster, a multi-disciplinary visual artists, facilitator and activist who also founded Duluth All Souls Night
  • Connor Rice, a mixed-media artist from Minneapolis who takes visual inspiration from hieroglyphs and graffiti mixing ancient symbols with a modern sensibility
  • Monica Sheets, creates platforms for civic engagement using her experiences growing up in the Rust Belt which influenced her desire to reach audiences who might not normally visit galleries and museums
  • Jessica Williams, an emerging Twin Cities artist whose vibrant artwork combines representational imagery with geometric abstraction with a blend of humor and social commentary

Art Connects Us is just one of the ways that the Trust is responding to the changing cultural landscape brought about by the COVID-19 situation. For example, the Trust’s education department has transformed its programs to virtual spaces by offering online masterclasses for Spotlight Education high school students multiple times a week. Just recently, in collaboration with Downtown Improvement District, the “Street Show” summer concert series of street buskers on Nicollet Mall and Hennepin Avenue has been rebooted to online streaming performances. The Trust will also be honoring this year’s graduating seniors from the FAIR School’s downtown campus later this month.

Hennepin Theatre Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution and relies on both ticket sales and contributed revenue for all operational needs related to its community mission. Annually, the Trust serves more than 8,000 high school students statewide and brings nearly 600,000 people to the Hennepin Theatre District to experience art on the street and stage. Ticket holders who can no longer use their tickets to for canceled or rescheduled events are encouraged to consider donating the value of their tickets to the Trust. These donations will further support Trust programs which promote the community and introduce new audiences to the arts.

To learn more about the artists, and to see their digital artwork, please visit HennepinTheatreTrust.org/ArtConnectsUs. #ArtConnectsUs

Hennepin Theatre Trust drives cultural and economic vitality in Minnesota through leadership of the dynamic Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis and educational programming that reaches every area of the state. Its historic theatres — Orpheum, State and Pantages — and event center at 900 Hennepin Avenue light up Hennepin Avenue with top-tier entertainment, including the best of Broadway and a wide variety of arts programming. Hennepin Theatre Trust is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Learn more at HennepinTheatreTrust.org.