Cultural Corridor: The West Bank

By: Jamie Schumacher, West Bank Business Association
February 26, 2014
This post is the second in an occasional series “Cultural Corridor”.  In this series, we will highlight distinct cultural districts along the Green Line participating in the Central Corridor as a Cultural Corridor program.
Thousands live in Minneapolis’ diverse West Bank neighborhood and our community is a blend of musicians, artists, students, and families coming together to share knowledge, talent, and inspiration.
2014 is an exciting year for our neighborhood. The Central Corridor will open in June and the West Bank station is within walking distance from our Hiawatha line station. We’ll be making improvements to our commercial corridor as well including a long overdue makeover for Cedar sidewalks.
The West Bank Business Association is working hard to take advantage of the various opportunities coming to our neighborhood in 2014, while still mitigating the damage of the chaos from construction for our small businesses. We serve the area on an annual basis with our member services and programs, such as our area marketing, the West Bank Ride and the West Bank Music Festival. But – in 2014 – we’ve got a few extra things planned.
The Light Rail festivities will kick off in St. Paul’s Lowertown on June 14th and there will be exciting things happening all along the line – the West Bank included. While plans are still in the works, we’re hoping our stop will be very “West Banky.” There are some great things in our neighborhood that you can’t find anywhere else in the Twin Cities and we aim to make our stop a memorable one.
One thing we are very excited about is the launch of the West Bank Arts Foundry in 2014. The West Bank is already home to a variety of live music venues and unique theaters, so arts really are a part of what we do best. But we want even more opportunities for visual arts and creative experiences on the West Bank – and we want to strengthen many of the efforts that are underway. So, we’re launching the Arts Foundry which will be a resource for creatives and supportive businesses. We’ll kick off the Foundry with a conference on April 5th, 2014 which will be free for participants. The seminars will be both informational and “collaborational” – more brainstorming style.  The various topics will give creatives help making their events successful and give businesses help with bringing the arts into their shops and storefronts. We’re able to make the Arts Foundry happen thanks to support from LISC and the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.
Our friends at the Cedar Cultural Center and Augsburg College will be launching their new program “Midnimo,” which will include residencies with Somali artists from around the world. The overall purpose of Midnimo is to increase awareness and understanding of Muslim cultures through the performing arts, especially among the millennial generation. Somali artists will be working in partnership with Augsburg faculty to incorporate program activities into course curricula and with The Cedar to facilitate community outreach events.
And last but most certainly not least, we’re super excited that Irrigate will be including Minneapolis in their work for 2014. They are inviting artists who live or work on the West Bank (Cedar / Riverside) as well as University and Prospect Park neighborhoods to attend their placemaking training workshops and create collaborative projects along the line.
These are just a few examples of the fun stuff that’s in the works. We’ve got a lot of great business and creative activity going on this year, not to mention the infrastructure improvements of Cedar Ave and the Light Rail opening. 2014 is going to be an excellent year for arts and businesses on the West Bank.