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 two consecutive two-year terms. Current Commissioners include:
Ashley Fairbanks is a organizer and designer who has spent over 10 years working at the intersections of art and social change. Ashley was born and raised in Minneapolis, and currently lives with her partner in the Seward neighborhood. After years of working for the man, Ashley burst free and opened her own tiny design firm, Ziibing Creative, last year. She spends her days drinking tea, having meetings with smart people, and translating their ideas into totally sweet design projects. Equally passionate about organizing as she is about design, she works on issues like racial equity, food justice and Indigenous rights. Dedicated to increasing access to the arts, Ashley currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Art Shanty Projects board and is working to re-open the Two Rivers Gallery at the Minneapolis American Indian Center. Ashley is an enrolled member of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation. She studied American Indian Studies and Political Science at the University of Minnesota.
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.
Brenda Bell Brown
Brenda Bell Brown is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. After receiving a BA in Theater Arts from Brown University, dedication to the study of Black American life and culture led her to pursue a MA in Museum Studies at Hampton University. A writer, performer and visual artist, Brenda is a member of the Black Storytellers Alliance (MN) and Blues City Cultural Center (TN), an alumna of Hedgebrook Women's Writer's Retreat (WA) and best recognized for her work in literature for print, stage, and screen. In 2010, she received a Minnesota State Arts Board Cultural Community Partnership Grant and currently serves as Music Host for KFAI-FM Fresh Air Radio's (Friday) Morning Blend. Recently, Brenda wrote and directed the docu-drama "There but for the Grace of God: responding to the revelation," a film that urges us to see and respond to homelessness in our community.favorite aspect about arts in Minneapolis - The eclectic nature of it all.
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.
Coal Dorius resides in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood. I am a graduate landscape architect, an artist, and neighborhood organizer. I am also an adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota teaching in the landscape architecture department. My philosophy is to be as creative and purposeful as possible, as well as to use art as a bridge between people and disciplines. Through thoughtful connections we can continue to contribute to the social and economic growth of communities, as well as encourage an interchange of ideas in everyday life. I want to support artists and community groups to discover and utilize resources in communities, which will create opportunities to make their neighborhoods more expressive and vibrant.
Deanna Newman is the president of Public Pathways, Inc., a school facilities planning company. In her professional capacity she has participated in the design of nationally respected arts schools and implemented an 'Arts in the Schools' program. Her background includes county arts administration and a decade of community and college theater experience. Since moving to Minnesota in 1996, she and her husband have been enthusiastic cheerleaders for a variety of arts institutions. I love the way Minneapolis encourages art a part of our everyday lives whether it is standing at a light rail stop, drinking from a water fountain on the bike path, or walking down Nicolette Mall. I like the everyday transparency of an art community that invites people to hear the reading of a new play in the making or participate in an intersection painting. The summers in the city are a sensory feast made possible by our vibrant arts ecology.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Robert A. Hunter is an associate and senior architect at James Dayton Design who has worked closely with many twin cities arts organizations in the design and realization of their buildings. His experience includes working closely with individual artists, large building committees, community groups and local and state governments to successfully achieve each project’s unique goals. Rob serves on the Board of Directors of the Highpoint Center for Printmaking, mentors University of Minnesota College of Design students, and has been a guest design critic at several universities. His memberships include the Association of Licensed Architects, Architecture for Humanity, and he is an affiliated member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education. Rob has great appreciation for the unique depth and breadth and strong community support of the arts in Minneapolis and he looks forward to leveraging his experiences for the benefit of the Commission.
Sara Lopez works as a Community Organizer for the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association. She works at the grassroots level with residents and businesses to determine their interests and concerns and to transform their hopes into reality. Her approach to community development is heavily focused in asset building and the arts. Working arm-in-arm with neighborhood residents, she coordinates the Powderhorn365 photography project, Paint the Pavement initiatives and Utility Box Wrap coverage projects. Sara hails from Uruapan, Mexico. In 2009, she graduated from Carleton College with a degree in history. After college, Sara interned at the Mercado Central in their Business Resource Center and worked for the Northeast Farmer’s Market as part of their outreach team. Prior to PPNA, she served as an Outreach and Training Program Coordinator for the Latino Economic Development Center. Sara was selected from a national pool of applicants by the National Association of Latino Asset Builders to participate in a yearlong economic development training program and earned a certificate from the University of Texas – San Antonio. Sara is really interested in the power of Public Art and Placemaking as a tool for community development and economic opportunity for traditionally disenfranchised communities. Sara is a member of the Latino Advisory Council at the Mixed Blood Theater as well.
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.
Abdi Phenomenal (°1987, Mogadishu, Somalia) is a spoken word Artist, teaching artist, actor and a community activist who has been featured at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, New York times, AL-Jazeera and the project dubbed “The Youth/Dhallinyarada” which focused on the lives of Somali-American youth living in North America. A member of the Minnesota Spoken Word Association, He wants to encourage the youth to promote peace and be a voice for themselves and tell their stories to the world. Throughout the tumultuous years of hardships, alienation and finally reluctant assimilation he found recluse in poetry. Inspired by Maya Angelou, Abdi is a second-generation poet who has decided to revive the great poetic tradition of his forefathers through his new freedom found perspective in a diaspora tongue. Abdi is dedicated to impacting literacy and youth leadership through the art of spoken word.
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.
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.
Last updated Feb 23, 2015