April 8, 2015
By Jonathan Oppenheimer
The Midway Murals project is now in full stride along with the warm weather and joys of springtime in Minnesota. From the time we received the Knight Arts Challenge grant last September, we set in motion our plans to build strong relationships between our artists, local business owners, neighborhood residents, and community organizational partners – and these efforts have formed the foundation on which we stand today. Those first exploratory meetings last year blossomed into new friendships, sparked brilliant new ideas, and brought about grand visions that are now coming to life here in the heart of Saint Paul.
We decided to officially launch the project in late February just as we initiated our Indiegogo campaign to raise matching funds for the Knight Arts grant. Both launches were hugely successful and a testament to all of the hard work and passion that our team brings to the Midway Murals dream. On February 16th, we set out to raise $22,000 over 45 days on Indiegogo. Four days later, more than 320 people came out to the Turf Club to learn about the project, have fun on the dance floor, meet some new neighbors, and set us on our way towards our crowd funding goal. Seeing and feeling all of the love and support at the Launch Party, we knew that the local community was eager to embrace this initiative. Our crowd funding success since then has made clear just how much energy exists for creative placemaking efforts likes ours. When all was said and done on April 2nd, we reached 111% of our goal, thanks to more than 330 individual donors! We are incredibly fortunate to have had such a groundswell of excitement during the campaign.
Now, we eagerly await the next phase of the project as we delve more deeply into the community engagement that lies at the heart of Midway Murals. In late April and early May, we will hold 6 community listening sessions and conversations in and around the area where the murals will spring up later this summer. Of those events, 4 of them will take place at the businesses where the murals will be located, and the other 2 will be held at larger venues to accommodate a bigger crowd. We will eat well, share our stories, get to know one another, and plant the seeds for the designs of the murals. From there, the muralists will be off and running, sketching away, ordering up supplies, and settling in to a summer’s worth of artistic magic. I am so grateful for the opportunity to lead this project and so happy to be sharing it with this community full of generous spirits.