Thursday, October 9, 2008

August update

Dear Friends of Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center,

We have some wonderful news to report. Just yesterday, the City of Minneapolis closed on the building at 3749 Chicago Avenue – our future home! This is a major milestone, and brings us one step closer to opening our doors! We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all who worked so hard to make this happen!
The next step is for Artspace, which will eventually be our landlord, to purchase the building from the city of Minneapolis. Artspace is the nation's leading nonprofit developer of spaces for artists and arts organizations. The process of lining up the financing, dotting the i's and crossing the t's will likely take several months, but we'll be using that time to refine our business plan, focus on some of the back-end infrastructure issues, and continue with our favorite pastime – fundraising!
A Gift of Talent from Brown College
One of the other activities that we've been working on this summer is the interior design of the building. We were fortunate enough to be the recipients of volunteer services from Commercial Design students at the Brown College Institute of Design who were looking for a portfolio-building capstone project. Each student developed a complete plan for our gallery, office, and common spaces, with suggestions for layout of the area as well as specific finishes and treatments. Their ideas combined an appreciation of the building's history as a movie theatre and its original design features with our need to create attractive, functional space for a new arts center. We were thrilled with the end results, which allowed us to pick the features that will work best for our intentions and walk away with a finished plan for renovation. Partnering with college students felt like the perfect fit for us as an educational organization, and the students enjoyed working on an exciting new project like CAFAC – definitely a win-win situation for all involved!
SPEAK Project
Even though we don't have a physical home yet, we are continuing with our summer youth program called the SPEAK Project. In 2006, SPEAK's first year, about 30 kids from the four neighborhoods that intersect at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue (where the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center will be located), participated and designed sculptures based around the theme of "Unity in Diversity." In its second year, the project grew to include about 40 kids and focused on the theme of "Respect", with spoken word and digital photography classes added to the mix.
This year, the theme of the project is "Growth in the Community" and fittingly, the SPEAK project is branching out to include the North Side of Minneapolis. Through a generous grant from the Pohlad Family Foundation, SPEAK will be working with a group of kids to build an "art bench" that will be a wonderful addition to Cottage Park in the Jordan neighborhood.SPEAK will also continue on the South Side this year, with work beginning on a fence for the community garden located at the corner of 33rd and Columbus in the Central Neighborhood.
Please join us for the dedication ceremony of the North Side project which will take place on Saturday, August 23!
And finally….
Once again, we would like to send our sincerest thanks to all the incredible people who have done and continue to do so much of the behind-the-scenes work to bring the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center to reality. We are humbled by your generosity, inspired by your enthusiasm, and motivated by your commitment to making this dream come true.
Thank you!
Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center Board of Directors

Heather Doyle Victoria Lauing Montana Scheff Ryan Knoke Scott Hofer Maren Christenson