In Fall of 2022, WSCO kicked off a partnership with the Office of Cultural Work (OCW), led by Shannon Brunette (pictured, above left, in conversation with West Side artists Jesús Ramírez).
WSCO and OCW are designing a process to engage the community through public art and uplift the history of the West Side Flats. “We see this as another aspect of healing from generational trauma and to lift up the stories of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in land use conversations,” said Kai Andersen, Equitable Development Director at WSCO.
WSCO and the Office of Cultural Work share an important racial and economic justice lens that shapes how we value art and its place in equitable development. Together, we seek to build long-term opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists to create public works at new housing development sites on the West Side. As part of this work, we hope to explore avenues for youth mentorship as well as experienced artists seeking to reach broader audiences.
At the core of this collaboration, we are committed to accompanying the Mdewakanton and greater Dakota Nations who are the first stewards of the West Side, along the Mississippi River front, and greater Minnesota. We don’t just give land acknowledgements regarding the stolen land from our Dakota relatives, we are committed to building relationships in the pursuit of equitable development on the West Side.
Through art and community engagement, this partnership builds our capacity for art project management, community organizing, and narrative building rooted in the history of the West Side Flats. Art integration is crucial to broader equitable development goals, and this collaboration plays an important role in WSCO’s work on the West Side 10 Year Community Plan. It is essential to safeguard access for BIPOC folks to be involved in land use decisions.
Click here to learn more about two new public art projects moving forward on the West Side in 2023.
Below are a few examples of Office of Cultural Work’s related work, to share the relevant experience for facilitating this critical work with WSCO:
- A long history of recognizing the unique needs for cross discipline community engaged work led by artists and cultural workers that thrive in intensive discovery and visioning processes
- Ability to support the development of a scalable action plan to manage multiple projects while being guided by shared values to advance equity and inclusion in all that we do in the world
- Ability to support an increased awareness and understanding of a shared language around the critical work of arts power to exemplify equity and inclusion, with a focus on defining terms leading to a shared set of core community values
- Finally, Office of Cultural Work’s work on large-scale public art experiences from live performance background to public artwork, city infrastructure to architectural design build projects—OCW has had the chance to lead and transform the key role artists play in our communities while honoring the legacies of those that came before to teach and guide our future-forward work
About Shannon Brunette
“A visual artist and leader in nonprofit and arts management, Shannon has held leadership positions at artEquity, Penumbra Theatre, Walker Art Center, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Blue Man Group, and Lambent Foundation. As head of the Office of Cultural Work, she advises partners such as Seitu Jones Studio who are working at the intersection of art and social change to advance their vision for their work and the world.” Learn more about the Office of Cultural Work here.