Thursday, March 21, 2013

TPAA Announces the North X North Music and Arts Experience

The March 12 meeting of the Twin Ports Arts Align (TPAA) began with much anticipation as Crystal Pelkey introduced Mike Malone of Swim Creative who was on hand to present a logo and a name for a newly designated arts month. The well-attended meeting filled the DAI board room.

Malone began by stating that he had been contacted by Mayor Ness and asked to consider helping this group, the Twin Ports Arts Align. After several weeks of brainstorming and deliberations involving key players with the TPAA and staff from Swim Creative, Malone was able to announce, “Tonight, we have a name and a logo.”

The young agency exec explained that there are two different audiences we are seeking to communicate to, the folks in the arts community and the folks who are outside the community. The name that ultimately emerged was:

NORTH X NORTH
MUSIC & ARTS EXPERIENCE

Next, Malone unveiled the logo. I'd managed to get a sneak preview of the name (by promising not to blog it here) but had not yet seen the logo. It seemed to be an immediate hit and was presented to the general public by means of a press conference in the Zeitgeist Arts Atrium Wednesday, the first day of spring here in Duluth. For the most part this announcement was the result of a prolonged period of sustained enthusiasm and another step toward fertilizing (organically) our local arts culture that it might flourish.


What is North x North?
North x North is a music & arts experience that takes place throughout Duluth and Superior, the end of April through early June 2013, and is a project of Twin Ports Arts Align. The North x North experience begins with the Homegrown Music Festival, followed by Gallery Week, then theater/ballet/symphony week, Dylan Days, and ultimately ending with the Duluth/Superior Film Festival. The NXN brings together more than four dozen arts organizations from the Twin Ports community along with hundreds of individual artists of all genres and mediums from music and theater to poetry, publishing, sculpture and other visual arts.

The Homegrown Music Festival has blossomed to involve close to 200 bands, and that doesn't include everyone yet. The visual arts week will feature 20 galleries on both sides of the bridge, and every theater will have something going on.

The beauty of the region and downtown development has turned Duluth-Superior into a major tourist destination, but much of that activity takes place between Memorial Day and mid-September when autumn splendor is at its peak. North x North aims to lengthen and strengthen the tourist season. The kickoff celebration will be April 23, a scant five weeks away.

What is Twin Ports Arts Align?
In January, as TPAA entered its second year, they developed the following statement of purpose:


Twin Ports Arts Align is a network of art administrators and artists in all disciplines that serve as a catalyst to incubate and stimulate a vibrant, sustainable arts culture in the Twin Ports. Through our synergy we aim to educate, inspire and support the spirit and economy of our region.

This group is a result of the Arts Align seminar at the Sheraton/Zeitgeist on February 4, 2012. Sponsored by UMD's School of Fine Arts, they currently meet the second Tuesday of every month. Social media has also played a role in this renewed surge of interest in building an arts culture in the Twin Ports with a dedicated Facebook page serving as a hub for the ongoing conversation.

For more about this announcement check out Christa Lawler's The Twin Ports' answer to South by Southwest? published online noon yesterday in the Duluth News Tribune. The piece begins, "You call it May, but if art supporters have their way, the fifth month will get a new identity: the North By North Music & Arts Experience."

Though questions remain, I for one am eager to see where it all goes. If nothing else it's a good excuse to keep us all talking about how the arts can enrich our community.

In the meantime, art goes on all around you. Open your eyes.

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