I like to call them “pop-up think tanks” – informal gatherings to discuss serious topics in innovative ways and from unstodgy new perspectives. They’re all over the Twin Cities, from the lively gatherings organized by our friends at Works Progress and the Ignite Minneapolis talks to Tane Danger’s Theater of Public Policy and the new Twin Cities branch of the international House of Genius project. They’re inspired, I think, by a widespread sense that meeting and talking in the same old ways to the same old folks is getting us nowhere in an era of proliferating problems and sclerotic institutions.
I had the pleasure of taking part in a new one just last week.
A year and a half ago I wrote a short piece for The Line about my visit to a remarkable institution in Omaha, Nebraska, called KANEKO. Named for its founder, Japanese-born and Omaha-based sculptor and international art-star Jun Kaneko, it’s a space where artists, creativity consultants, businesspeople, performers, and scientists come together to explore creativity across the boundaries of disciplines via talks, performances, and free-form discussions.
After the piece ran, I got a call out of the blue from a dynamic woman named Katy Gaynor, a fundraiser, development consultant, and arts advocate here in the Twin Cities who had read the piece. Among the many things Katy and I discovered we had in common was an interest in fostering creativity and helping artists bring their skill-sets to bear on other areas of life, like business. Katy told me that she wished the Twin Cities had its own version of KANEKO.
Plans for a Dialogue
In the months since that conversation, Katy has been busy making her hopes real by putting together a team of sharp colleagues to organize what the group dubbed the “Art and Business Dialogue X-Change,” a large invited gathering of some of our community’s most prominent artists, business people, and artist-businesspeople to talk about how the arts and business could break down barriers that separate them.
It took place last Thursday, July 25, in the beautiful conference room of the McKnight Foundation, and it attracted local A-listers like Gülgün Kayim, Director of Arts, Culture, and Creative Economy for the City of Minneapolis; public artist Ta-Coumba Aiken; and actor and Jeune Lune alumnus Steve Epp, to name just three of the fifty or so distinguished attendees. Read the rest of this entry »