Home of Target, birthplace of Bob Dylan, and a hub for some of the greatest arts organizations in the nation. A few weeks ago, Bolz Center Director Sherry Wagner-Henry and students traveled to Minneapolis and St. Paul for a 40-hour trip that was permeated by culture, creativity, and inspiration. The moment we arrived to the Minnesota Humanities Center for an evening reception, we were met by Bolz Center alumni, friends of the Wisconsin MBA, Minnesota arts leaders, and arts students. It was the perfect introduction to the Twin Cities and it beautifully set the tone for the rest of our visit.
The next morning, we were off bright and early. Our first stop was to the Jerome Foundation, followed by Springboard for the Arts, the Guthrie Theater, and finally Project SUCCESS. Each visit was unique and offered a different vantage point for not only defining what the arts can be but also how they are being imbedded into the communities of the Twin Cities. The importance of community engagement was central to the missions of each of these very different organizations and so clearly visible in their work.
In reflecting back over our trip to the Twin Cities, there were certainly takeaways and lessons learned. I was personally inspired by the ways in which organizations are utilizing the arts to change the essence of a community. Irrigate, the brainchild program of Springboard for the Arts, is seeking to bring beauty to the four-year construction project of the Central Corridor Light Rail. Irrigate aims to challenge the commonly held perception that construction is an ugly nuisance by mobilizing artists to develop projects along the six-mile track. In doing this, eyesores are converted to aesthetics, local artists are engaged with the community, and the area around the construction site is transformed into something positive and inspiring.
Another key takeaway was the power of the Bolz network. Although we were 300 miles away from tbe Wisconsin School of Business, we were warmly welcomed by a significant number of alumni and friends who had never met most of the members of our group. Yet, each “Bolzie” wanted to hear about our personal stories and how we came into the program. The conversations were genuine, and the networking felt far more authentic and valuable than what any of us would have experienced at a job fair or recruitment event. I was impressed by the commitment of the alumni, and am grateful to be part of the legacy. I look forward to our next adventure on the road.