Community Planning & Economic Development

Minneapolis Arts Commission
105 5th Avenue South, Room 200
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Minneapolis Arts Commission Membership

The seventeen member Commission consists of five artists, five arts administrators and seven laypersons with consideration given to geographic distribution, experience in the arts, and connections with the community, ethnic diversity and representation from a range of artistic disciplines. Commission members may be appointed for no more than three consecutive three-year terms. Current Commissioners include:




Jennifer Arave

I received my BFA in theater direction and my MFA in interdisciplinary Art focused on Performance studies. I am dancer and a choreographer of dance and a choreographer of community situations working in the northeast neighborhood. I have been working as an artist for the past 25 years. What I love about arts in Minneapolis is it exist-- Its everywhere, its alive and well here in Minneapolis.


Tom Loftus

Tom Loftus has been active in the Twin Cities creative community for the last 18 years. After 4 years in college radio and booking shows, he founded Modern Radio Record Label in 1999 as an artist friendly endeavor to support and promote musicians making ambitious and interesting music. Modern Radio has released over 60 records from artists around the world with a focus on the Twin Cities music community. In the last eight years, Tom has been involved in a variety of activities as a creative consultant, program coordinator and artist on The Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement, the Northern Spark festival, MNartists.orgblog, David Byrne’s Playing the Building, the Walker’s Artist Designed Mini Golf, Cat Vid Fest and the Cedar Cultural Center’s 416 Commission. Recently, Tom and his partner Robin started a mini golf blog, A Couple of Putts, to document their passion for the game and have been invited to present at the Tasmeem conference hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University in Doha, Qatar in 2015. By day, Tom is an educator and Career and Alumni Coordinator at McNally Smith College of Music. He received his BA from St. John’s University and MA from Hamline University.


Lisa Middag

Lisa Middag is an urban planner for Hennepin County Community Works focused on helping people build sustainable, equitable and thriving communities. She currently manages the Midtown Community Works program and for the past year has been working on a plan to better connect the Midtown Greenway to nearby cultural and commercial destinations through wayfinding and creative placemaking. She has an M.P.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota, and an undergraduate degree in English and Humanities. She is an Intermedia Arts Creative Community Leadership Institute Fellow and serves on the board for Springboard for the Arts, whose mission is to cultivate vibrant communities by connecting artists with the skills and services they need to make a living and a life and then leveraging their knowledge and creativity to make public spaces into valued community places. Lisa and her photographer husband Tony Nelson live and garden (food and flowers) in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. Together they enjoy the Twin Cities’ vibrant arts scene (performance, movies, books, and original music played by bands in clubs), its growing maker community (craft design, food and spirits), and long walks in the neighborhood. Lisa spent 10 years as the publications director and design studio manager at the Walker Art Center, and before that worked as a production accountant for 13 feature films, including 6 that were filmed locally.


Nathan Soland

Nathan Soland is an arts administrator for Hennepin Theatre Trust, where he serves as Director of Development, raising funds to support theatre, visual arts, creative placemaking, and community engagement initiatives. Nathan hails from Vergas, MN, a small town in Otter Tail county, and is a 2004 graduate of St. Olaf College. Prior to Hennepin Theatre Trust, Nathan managed a marketing team at Target Headquarters and was a long-time Alumni Director at St. Olaf College. Nathan loves to participate in the arts – particularly theatre – but has the most passion for creating opportunities for underserved individuals to see, experience, and participate in the arts. Nathan and his partner, Joe, live in the Longfellow/Cooper neighborhood of South Minneapolis.


Columba Reyes

Columba Reyes is the President of club Cuernavaca-Axochiapan-Morelos, a Community Organization who facilited the gift of the statue of General Emiliano Zapata in Minneapolis by the Government of Morelos on 12th and Lake Street at Plaza Centenario. The hard work and the legacy of the Latino business owners come from Morelos., making the statue a source of pride for many. She is also a Member-Leader forming a Coalition of differents Organizations called “LUCA” Latinos Unidos por la Cultura y el Arte, she is a Member of Lake Street Council in Minneapolis.
She is a pionner for the Sister-Cities Organization, who is the bridge between Minneapolis-Cuernavaca enhancing the benefits of sharing Culture in areas of education, business, art and more for the good of and between the two cities.

She lives in Minneapolis and have a lot of a experience working at Media Communications (for Spanish channels), she considers herself an activist for art and culture. She is very proud to represent Mexico at the Festival of the Nations, an annual event.


Mara Miller

Mara Miller is the Adult Program Director for the Minnetonka Center for the Arts (MCFTA) where she plans a full schedule of visual art classes and oversees arts outreach programs. Prior to joining the MCFTA, she served as the Communications and Events Coordinator at the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, where she became familiar with the rich diversity of small to midsize arts organizations in Minneapolis and the 7-county metropolitan region. She is a firm believer in arts advocacy and arts access and has seen firsthand how the arts can build community, spark innovation, and have economic impact. Mara has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, five books published, and has worked in publishing as a marketing coordinator and curriculum book editor. Her BA is in psychology from Hamline University. Her love of the arts goes back as far as she can remember, attending plays and later high school at the Children’s Theatre Company and visiting art museums wherever she traveled. She regularly enjoys going to art exhibits, music performances, and theater events at venues both large and small throughout the Twin Cities. She has lived in the Cleveland Neighborhood of Minneapolis for more than 23 years in a 1923 Arts and Craft style home where she resides with her husband.


David Kang

David Kang has over 15 years of experience as an independent media consultant, director and producer who has worked in Minneapolis, New York and Seoul. He is currently the principal Creative Consultant and CEO of Hana Media & Development – an independent media development and production firm with the mission of using media and communication strategies to positively impact communities, organizations, and people. Throughout David’s career, he has consistently advocated for the increased visibility of minorities, especially Asians, in media. David is currently a member of the Minneapolis Arts Commission, Northside Arts Leadership Group, Community Shares of MN, and the Asian American & Pacific Health Coalition, as well as several other professional groups.


Hayley Finn

Hayley Finn has been developing, directing, dramaturging, and producing new plays professionally for 18 years. She is the Associate Artistic Director at the Playwrights’ Center where she produces 50 workshops a year and works closely with emerging and established writers and manages partnerships with producing organizations. Other theatres she has worked for include the Cherry Lane Theatre, Curious Theatre, Flea Theatre, The Kitchen, New Dramatists, New Georges, Minnesota Jewish Theatre, Pangea World Theatre, Public Theater, Playwrights’ Horizons, Roundabout Theatre Company, South Coast Rep, Walker Arts Center, Workhaus Collective and the Vineyard Theatre, and she has been a guest director at Brown University, City University of New York, New York University, Fordham University, University of Minnesota, and University of Missouri. She has served on the artistic council at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, the steering committee for the Associate for Jewish Theatres Conference, and has served on panels for the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and the Kennedy Center College Theatre Festival. She received the TCG New Generations grant, is an alumna of the Drama League’s Director’s Program, and a recipient of the Ruth Easton directing fellowship. She received her BA and MA from Brown University.


Adaobi Okolue

Adaobi is the executive director and publisher at Twin Cities Media Alliance/Twin Cities Daily
Planet, an award-winning online publication focused on amplifying and connecting marginalized
voices. She is also the principal strategist at Coloring Circles LLC – a marketing studio in
Minneapolis that works primarily with nonprofits, foundations, issue-driven initiatives, and
creative entrepreneurs. Often seen as an instigator for thinking of fresh, smart ways for solving
problems, Adaobi is passionate about exploring the intersections of multimedia, creativity and
innovation, story and activism in her work.

She has been a featured guest speaker on MPR News’ discussion about Black Lives Matter and
media, The Loft Literary Center’s Curated By series on African women writers, The Common
Table’s Writing and Art for Justice, and Pollen’s Work Redux: Influence and Voice.
Originally hailing from Nigeria, Adaobi is also known as a writer, visual and performance artist,
and creative producer. She has been a contributing artist to Sha Cage’s and Signe Harriday’s
MaMa mOsAic—where she was featured in critically-acclaimed Blacker the Berry ensemble and
exhibit at Intermedia Arts – and is Givens Foundation Black Writers Collaborative alum.


Melinda Ludwiczak   

Melinda Ludwiczak is a project manager for MELSA, an alliance of metro area public libraries, where she is responsible for programs and projects supported through the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. She works with staff at 100 public libraries to plan, implement and evaluate literary programs, performances, visual arts, cultural activities and history programs. A Minneapolis resident for nearly 40 years, Melinda loves her Kingfield Neighborhood, especially the Kingfield Farmers Market she helped establish. She combines her information skills and love of gardening as a Hennepin County Master Gardener volunteer. After a long Minnesota winter, Melinda makes an annual visit to Santa Fe every spring to absorb the sun, museums, arts, culture and breathtaking scenery.


Tina Burnside

Tina Burnside is an attorney and writer. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School and practices law in Minneapolis. She also graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in journalism and worked as a reporter for the Milwaukee Sentinel. As a writer, her work has also appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Minneapolis StarTribune, MinnPost, Twin Cities Daily Planet, and Minnesota Daily. Ms. Burnside has written a fiction novel, Have Mercy. She has also written several plays that have been produced by various theater companies. In addition to writing, Ms. Burnside makes jewelry and is learning the art of glass fusion.


Eric Bruce

Eric Bruce is a native Minnesotan currently working as the Head of Visitor Experience at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I’m a huge fan and advocate of the arts in all of their forms. I’ve made it a personal goal to seek out creative leadership opportunities in the non-profit sector and promote art as an essential part of the human experience. I’m especially driven by opportunities to make the arts accessible to everyone, and to help organizations identify and react to the needs and motivations of their audiences. My background is in music, museums and non-profit arts management. I received my BA in Music from Simpson College in Indianola, IA. While in Iowa, I worked at the Des Moines Metro Opera in Development and Community Relations. After returning to Minnesota, I received an MA in Arts and Cultural Management from Saint Mary’s University in Minneapolis. I participate on a number of boards and committees, and am excited to serve and support my community.


Alexander Tsadwa

Alexander “Zander” Tsadwa is a cultural entrepreneur who hails from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the founder of convergence culture site, manager of Minneapolis-based hip-hop artist MaLLy, and has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of St. Thomas.

A first-generation American of Ethiopian descent, Zander has been able to cultivate unique perspectives on issues of race and culture both in the United States and internationally. These perspectives have influenced all of his professional works including academic research, music, and articles.

A firm believer in cultural entrepreneurship, Zander looks to innovate in ways that, “shift attitudes, beliefs, and behavior and, in doing so, change the world for the better.”


Calvin Keasling

Calvin Keasling is an active Twin Cities Musician and the lead Arts Administrator for Minneapolis Public Schools. He is an advocate for arts education, arts integration, and increased arts experiences for preK - 12 grade students, and believes strongly that the creative process transforms lives for the better. As an arts administrator he has organized and planned citywide performances and art exhibits. As a commissioner Calvin is looking to increase music and other art venues for South Mpls residents. Calvin loves how Mpls artists come together in collaboration, and he is excited to see more dancers, actors, musicians, and visual artists come together in collaborative presentations and performances.


Becky Franklin

Becky Franklin has ten years of experience working for artists and art organizations in several capacities, and she is currently the operations manager for the Weavers Guild of Minnesota. She also is a visual artist, who has created work for public art projects, participated in group shows throughout the Midwest and in England, and was most recently a featured artist in the Arts Midwest Leadership Ideas Exchange. Inspired by her experience balancing her administrative work and creating art, Becky established an annual endowed scholarship at her alma mater, Luther College, for students hoping to pursue professional art internships outside the studio. Becky loves that the work from Minneapolis artists, which spans a wide array of expressive forms, is particularly thoughtful and smart.






Last updated Apr 13, 2016