Friday, May 20, 2022

RFPs and the Local Scene

Painting from Sarah Brokke's recent DAI show, Embody
I just received an email from the Duluth Art Institute regarding a potential upheaval they are facing. The email has a two-fold purpose. First, to inform members of an action that will effect the DAI. Second, to request help from the arts community. The help sought is two-fold. Contact St. Louis County Commissioners to ask questions and and express support for the DAI mission. Also, you can write letters of endorsement and send to Christina Woods at Here is a portion of the message from the email:

We want to share that the Duluth Art Institute (DAI) is entering into a lease RFP process for our current space within the St. Louis County (SLC) Depot building. The county has implemented this process in short order. Our current two-year lease, which began in January 2022, has been voided, and there are no assurances that we will be chosen to remain at the Depot. The DAI was informed of the RFP process in February, and received the RFP on May 10 to be submitted by June 14. RFP award announcements will occur later this summer, with RFP lease terms to begin January 1, 2023.

Now I personally have a beef with living in a world where the best proposals win instead of the best projects. It seems to me that an RFP should only have a partial weight in these decisions, especially when there has been a long history established. It's especially disconcerting that they have been give just over a month to defend their status or be ousted.

It's my understanding that the St. Louis County Historical Society is facing a similar disruption. I can't imagine the challenge, let alone the expense, of properly moving everything safely, let alone the challenge of finding a new space. I am curious, too, how many people saw the RFP much earlier and have had more time to develop their proposals. 

Events like these can be a test of our ability to turn negatives into positives. They do keep us from resting on our laurels. The short timeline is frustrating because the staff is not sitting idle. There is always more work than there is time, so we're always doing triage with regard to our "to do" lists.  

For more information about the DAI:

Contact our County Board of Commissioners HERE

The 2022 DAI Annual Member Show is coming up fast, from May 26 to June 26 in the Great Hall at the Depot. Opening reception is May 26 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Will you be there? It's a great opportunity to see how vibrant our local arts community is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting. In case you missed it, there were some insightful comments on Christa Lawler's piece in the Strib. Here is one that stood out:

"Follow the money. Watch who bids on the spots. They will be the likely ones who brought up the long-ignored statute.

Bets are out on the shady group that wants a sound stage because Hollywood is coming to Duluth. They actually presented a drawing in the west end putting their building on the spot where a US Post office exists !"

This is talking about Catalyst. I can't remember if I gave you my spiel about them, but it's not a secret. Unfortunately, I've been the only media person at all even mentioning their finances:

...and I'm tired of carrying all the water myself. The DNT's sound stage article was ridiculously uncritical, quoting Gilpin saying we should build a $30-40 million sound stage in Duluth to attract Hollywood. But recently, critics are beginning to emerge, on FB and in comments like this one."

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