September 13, 2018

Vorderbruggen’s leadership in reimagining downtown theatre district blends public art with public affairs

MINNEAPOLIS—Joan Vorderbruggen, a nationally recognized expert on placemaking and public art who leads such projects for Hennepin Theatre Trust, has been selected to participate in the Policy Fellows program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Her participation in the highly-regarded leadership program will support Vorderbruggen’s work in an arena that blends public art with public affairs and policymaking. Vorderbruggen will begin the program on Friday, Sept. 14.

As director of placemaking and public art for the Trust, Vorderbruggen leads projects that help establish an identity for Minneapolis’ theatre district, located along Hennepin Avenue between Fifth and Tenth Streets. These include large scale murals such as the iconic Bob Dylan and a creation on the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center, which recently received an award from Americans for the Arts. She also directs the Made Here project that features art installations in vacant storefront windows, and organizes community cultural events.

“I’m thrilled to be selected as Policy Fellow, and look forward to enhancing my skills in working with government and community leaders,” says Vorderbruggen. “More and more, city leaders, police and area businesses are seeing how the arts can help create a vibrant and healthy city and this fellowship will allow me to leverage my work in new and exciting ways.”

Vorderbruggen is already working with city leaders and downtown business partners in innovative ways to insert art into public projects. She represents the Trust on a committee of engineers, planners and business leaders to plan and prepare for a major construction project along Hennepin Avenue set to begin in 2019. While the City’s project is focused on updating streets and infrastructure along the corridor, Vorderbruggen is helping identify opportunities to embed public art — and design elements that help create a distinct sense of place for the theatre district — into the plans. In addition, she chairs the Hennepin Avenue Safety Committee made up of police and business owners who work to create a safe and welcome environment along Hennepin Avenue.

“Hennepin Theatre Trust is committed to creating a positive change through the arts, and there’s no greater change maker than Joan Vorderbruggen,” says Mark Nerenhausen, president and CEO of the Trust. “The fact that she is at the table in conversations about safety and city planning demonstrates that the arts are critical in establishing safe and vibrant communities, and the Policy Fellows program will position her to be even more effective in helping lead the Trust’s vision for Hennepin Avenue.”

Vorderbruggen, an artist herself, joined the Trust in 2013. In this role, she has launched the Made Here initiative to showcase the work of Minnesota artists and has planned and managed the installation of numerous public art projects in the district.

She was selected as a 2017-2018 Creative Community Fellow by the National Arts Strategies and is a member of the Ethical Redevelopment Salon at the University of Chicago.

The Policy Fellows Program is one of the country’s most respected public affairs leadership programs for emerging and mid-career leaders in government, nonprofit and public sectors. The nine month-long fellowship hosted by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey School trains participants in public affairs and policymaking and includes numerous networking opportunities and a trip to Washington, DC.

HENNEPIN THEATRE TRUST is a nonprofit organization that creates positive change through the arts by serving the community through their downtown Minneapolis historic theatres – the Orpheum, State and Pantages – and unique arts, culture and education programs. All performances of the Trust’s Broadway on Hennepin series are supported by Bank of America. The Trust’s Living Legend concert series is supported by BMO Harris Bank. The Trust’s Spotlight Education Spotlight Showcase is sponsored by Fredrikson & Byron, Slumberland Furniture and Sun Country Airlines. Learn more at HennepinTheatreTrust.org.