The Northeast Minneapolis community is made up of fourteen engaged, unique neighborhoods, and throughout history has been a sanctuary for immigrant and working-class residents. Over time, large warehouse buildings went from being places of product manufacturing to vacant – until artists came to revitalize them with studios and galleries. Today the heart of Northeast Minneapolis is the Arts District, an area of over 400 galleries, studios, and artist-filled buildings.
Over the past 30 years, artists have revitalized our Northeast community and as a result of this heightened activity, restaurants and businesses thrive. In March 2015, the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District was designated as the ‘Best Art District’ by readers and fans in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice award. However, having the hindsight history provides, there is a concern: In many other areas artists revitalize, only for that area to succumb later to gentrification. This is something both artists, businesses and residents of Northeast want to avoid. The problem: how do we preserve Northeast as a permanent home for artists, and continue to sustain it? Further – how can we demonstrate the economic impact they have?
In 2001 a study was conducted that resulted in the “Arts Action Plan for Northeast.” Steered by the artists themselves, the study was funded by several large foundations and supported by many community organizations and neighborhood groups. It showed that stakeholders in the area were eager to maintain a commitment to the arts and their new neighbors, the local artists. Recognizing the significant impact the arts were having on this part of the city, in 2003 the city of Minneapolis officially designated a sizable geographic area as the official “Northeast Minneapolis Arts District.”
We are one of few areas in the country with such a harmony of features: a vibrant, active arts districts and three regionally focused supporting nonprofits: a chamber of commerce, a community development corporation, and an arts association.
The Arts Action Plan remains a live planning document for the area. The Northeast Minneapolis Arts District & the Arts District Committee is an outcome of this Arts Action Plan.