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Matt Dreier

Leadership and Learning

by Matt Dreier Wednesday, November 6, 2013

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” - John Fitzgerald Kennedy

On the late afternoon of October 17, the Bolz Center traveled to the Twin Cities to tour several arts organizations and meet with leaders in Minnesota. Throughout the next 24+ hours, we met with dozens of individuals and traveled all over St. Paul and Minneapolis. It was great to spend some time outside of Wisconsin with my fellow Bolzies and to see some of the new concepts that we’ve been talking about in action!

On the morning of October 18, we started out at the Minnesota Centennial Showboat, a showboat docked on Harriet Island, right across from downtown St. Paul. Each summer, University of Minnesota students have the opportunity to perform live theater on this floating stage, complete with traditional painted backdrops and footlights! Despite the program having existed since 1958, the original Showboat actually burned to the ground in 2000. The folks at the Showboat talked to us extensively about the public-private partnership and community-building that led to the building of the new Showboat, and it’s extremely successful reopening in 2002.

From there, we toured the Cowles Center for Dance in Minneapolis. This gorgeous building is actually the combination of two historic buildings: the Shubert Theater and the Hennepin Center for the Arts. The building was a project of Artspace, a nonprofit real estate development company that specializes in creating and maintaining affordable artist live/work spaces. They also do consulting work for other nonprofits and create non-residential projects that provide space for artistic organizations. After we visited the Cowles Center, we toured another recent project of Artspace and met with Kelly Lindquist, the President of Artspace, for a quick Q&A session. We then returned to the Minnesota Humanities Center (where we stayed for lodging on the 17th) for a master class with internationally-renowned arts leader David O’Fallon. It was great to spend time talking to someone with such a vast level of experience from small nonprofits to large-scale governmental arts organizations.

Our day on ended with the newly created MN/WI Emerging Leaders Conference. This event brought together more than 75 arts professionals from dozens of Wisconsin and Minnesota arts organizations. The goal of the event was to start a conversation on pressing arts and cultural issues amongst the next generation of arts leaders. It was amazing to have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of such a diverse group of leaders. And I am super excited because we will be continuing the conversation next semester during our Arts Business Symposium (details TBA)!

Overall, it was a fantastic few days filled with great people and amazing learning experiences. I am looking forward to many more like it during my time here in the Bolz Center!