Hennepin Theatre Trust COVID-19 Updates

Hennepin Theatre Trust unveils the It’s the People Virtual Roundtable series, which focuses on themes of justice, equity and empowerment

December 2, 2020

The four-part web series features moderated conversations with the artists and subjects of the 2020 season of It’s the People, a multimedia public art installation sponsored by UBS Wealth Management USA and Clear Channel Outdoor

MINNEAPOLIS (Dec. 1, 2020) — Hennepin Theatre Trust, in partnership with UBS Wealth Management USA and Clear Channel Outdoor, unveils a new four-part virtual roundtable series of community conversations. The series centers on the themes of the 2020 season of It’s the People including justice, equity and empowerment. The first segment of the web series is available for viewing now on the Trust’s website at HennepinTheatreTrust.org.

The It’s the People Virtual Roundtable series is inspired by the people whose experiences and stories create the unique vibrancy of Hennepin Avenue. It’s the People portrait photographers, subjects of the portraits and community experts will explore the serious themes the portraits address in approachable, engaging conversations. “We recognize that public art is an important voice in the discussions we’re having about the issues and matters that challenge us as a community,” said Mark Nerenhausen, President and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust. “By going beyond the ‘canvas,’ these roundtables let us hear directly from the artists about their work, what inspired them and the stories they’re telling.”

Now in its second year, It’s the People joins existing murals and public art projects in the Hennepin Theatre District with captivating portraits shot by renowned Minnesota artists showcasing themes of identity, empowerment, trans equity, community outreach through violence prevention and social justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women.

It’s the People artist Chad Germann, an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Tribe of Minnesota, selected his theme to increase awareness about murdered and missing Indigenous woman and girls. He said that it’s a very real problem in his Native American community and doesn’t get enough attention in popular culture. “I hope that people see my work and say ‘I wonder why that Native American mother is hiding her daughter’s face from us. I should Google Native American women’s issues…’,” said Germann. He hopes that the conversations in the virtual roundtables creates questions in the viewer’s mind and drives them toward discovery and a call to action.

The roundtables last 30-50 minutes following socially distanced guidelines. They each feature an It’s the People artist with a panel of community experts, and in some case the actual subjects of the artwork. “It’s encouraging listening how these discussions generate additional, and at times unexpected, insight and interpretation to both the artwork and the themes they represent,” said Joan Vorderbruggen, the director of Hennepin Theatre District engagement for the Trust, who moderates each conversation. “While we’d prefer to host these opportunities in person, I’m excited that these conversations will have a life online beyond the actual discussion,” said Vorderbruggen. A new roundtable will premiere each month and be available for viewing on the Trust’s website.

The It’s the People Virtual Roundtable line-up will include:

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (now playing)
Featured artist: Chad Germann
Panelists Sarah Anderson and Cristina Melzer from the Native American Community Clinic

Germann is an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Tribe of Minnesota and the Founder/CEO of Red Circle ad agency. He chose this topic as he feels it is pertinent to the Hennepin Theatre District as an issue that touches downtown but is too often invisible. He feels there are a disproportionate number of Indigenous people receiving shelter services in downtown and the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is something he feels needs to be at the forefront of safety and equity conversations for the district.

Violence Prevention (Dec. 28, 2020)
Featured artist: Nikki McComb
Panelists: Sasha Cotton, Director of the office of Violence Prevention, City of Minneapolis, Jamil Jackson, CEO Change Equals Opportunity and Minneapolis Freedom Fighters

McComb is the Executive Director of Art is My Weapon: Creatively Addressing Violence. She has a long history of working at the intersection of art and violence prevention applying her artistic interests and skills working relentlessly in North Minneapolis and surrounding communities with youth, families and victims of gun violence. McComb chose her subjects because she felt strongly that violence prevention strategies, and the people on the front lines and behind the scenes, deserve recognition as silent heroes who show up every day to positively impact communities on Hennepin Avenue.

Trans Equity (Jan. 25, 2021)
Featured artist: Ryan Coit
Panelists: Britt Sickman and Ashley Scott, portrait subjects

Coit is an international photographer exploring the human form with images that capture beauty in all types of individuals expressing their sexuality and identity. For the past several years, his life and photography has been influenced by his involvement in the LGBTQ community. Coit chose his subjects to represent the theme of trans equity because they are high ranking, accomplished, trans-identifying service men who are LGBTQ community leaders in the Twin Cities.

Exploring Identity (Feb. 22, 2021)
Featured artist: Kristine Heykants
Panelists: FAIR School students

Heykants exhibits throughout the Twin Cities and teaches photography at Minneapolis College. She combines storytelling and art to find unearthed beauty in the familiar and looks to the pioneering psychologist Carl Jung’s concept of archetypes to describe roles played by humans throughout history. Heykants led high school students from the FAIR School Downtown to explore identity through the lens of photography. She immersed them in the creative process by having them experiment with different personas through a mixture of visual research, reflection and technical instruction.

“We’re pleased that our collaboration with Hennepin Theatre Trust and Clear Channel Outdoor for It’s the People provides ongoing reflection of the It’s the People initiative leading to thought-provoking inspiration,” said Stephen Glynn, Managing Director and Market Head for the Minnesota-Northern Plains Market at UBS Wealth Management USA. “As the pandemic continues to be a challenging time for people to connect with one another in person, the roundtable series creates an innovative opportunity to spark deeper discussions, ask questions and examine ideas more thoughtfully.”

The digital version of It’s the People launched on downtown billboards and surrounding metro area locations earlier this year and organizers hope to install large-scale banners featuring the artwork later this year in downtown Minneapolis along Hennepin Avenue.

 It’s the People is presented by Hennepin Theatre Trust with support from UBS Wealth Management USA and Clear Channel Outdoor.

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

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.

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