North Minneapolis Tells its Own Story through Annual Arts Crawl

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Cookie Cart Girls at FLOW

Cookie Cart Girls at FLOW

North Minneapolis community members are changing the perception of their often maligned neighborhood by telling their their own stories at FLOW Northside Arts Crawl, a community-based, non-juried arts show. The late July event runs for three days and was founded in 2006 by Dudley Voigt.

“One thing I love about FLOW is it’s an opportunity to really foster healthy community. So there are people from the Northside who are part of FLOW, lots of people come from outside the community. And it’s really about changing the narrative about North Minneapolis,” says DeVon Nolen, Market Manager for the West Broadway Farmers Market, a project of the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition.

North Minneapolis is often the topic of conversation in news media. For example, during the last legislative session, Rep. Newberger was booed for saying, “Boy, wouldn’t that be convenient, to have that rail line going from the prison to North Minneapolis,” in regards to the proposed North Line.

An Opportunity To See North Minneapolis In Person

According to FLOW event planners, Flow offers an opportunity for community members to come together and see what North Minneapolis has to offer in-person.

“FLOW is an occasion and so, as an event, it gives a framework for people to come to bear witness to the great work that is here all year round whether it’s performance or public art or studio art or things in process,” Voigt says.

FLOW is meant to gather community members, artists, business owners, and vendors. Artists present performance art, studio art, and various forms of public art. Local businesses can provide space, sell food, or provide information on services offered on the Northside.

For many artists and event participants, it was also a time to showcase parts of North Minneapolis that are often ignored by news media and others. FLOW is also an invitation to community members from outside North Minneapolis to come and visit.

“We have about 23,000 cars that come through the intersection of Broadway and Emerson everyday and how do we get people to not just drive through but actually stop and patronize the businesses along here and become a part of the community. Come and experience it for yourself. I think the arts is a wonderful medium and a way that we can connect with one another,” Nolen says.

This year’s FLOW was expected to draw approximately 10,000 visitors. According to Voigt, this year’s FLOW hosted 33 project sites.

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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