Community Gathering, Arts Hub

Sarah Lutman and 8 Bridges Workshop have been supporting the St. Paul-based arts organization, Springboard for the Arts, as it develops SpringBOX.

In June, Knight Foundation made a $1 million investment in the redevelopment of the new site, a former car dealership located on light rail’s Green Line on University Avenue near the state capitol. Even while under renovation, the space is already being used by the community.

In just ten months, more than 150 organizations and community groups have used the building—for free—with more than 4,500 people participating. Recently, the SpringBOX garage had been transformed into six-week exhibition on Hip Hop Architecture, and daily use included rehearsals for a Hmong dance team, a conference sponsored by Street Stops and Mountain Tops, theater rehearsals, a board meeting for the Midway Chamber of Commerce, a staff retreat for Prepare and Prosper, a community meeting for the Minnesota Homeless Coalition, a break dancing workshop, and a photographer using the space for head shots, among other uses.

Springboard’s vision—that every community deserves access to their local creative capacity and that artists should have access to the tools they need to make a living and a life and to have an impact where they live—offers a fresh approach to artist-based community development. By openly and freely sharing what it does, how it learns, and why it matters, Springboard stimulates a national conversation about artists and the arts, and shows how creative engagement leads to the meaning making and belonging that forms the heart of joyous, equitable community prosperity.

SpringBOX is already becoming a lively and welcoming hub and home that can incubate creative activity and spur civic action. In this new model of the public square, artists can support civic leaders in their efforts to discover participatory processes and creative approaches to community change and development, resulting in a place to live, work, and play that is nourishing and exciting.

Read Sarah’s full article on SpringBOX.