Mn Artists is a community of artists, their activities, and conversations; it is a digital community that is also a functioning panorama of the Upper Midwest’s real art community. Housed within the Education and Public Programs department of the Walker Art Center, the autonomy of this program enables it the hybrid space within the intersection between institution and the artistic community, creating welcome environment where working artists, their digital assets, arts publishing, and live programs are hosted by the museum, and serve to reciprocate audiences of both constituencies.
The software infrastructure and taxonomy of mnartists.org are organized such that the site mirrors both the cultural content and sub-communities of a real arts scene. mnartists.org offers browsing filters for content types (i.e. Articles, Artists, Artwork, Events, Opportunities, Organizations) that make it possible for artists to insert themselves in and pursue all aspects of an artistic career with the support of this museum-created platform - from producing and sharing work, to applying to opportunities, to attending events, to reading review and topical issues, to meeting with other artists in person and then bringing those aspirations to the studio to start the cycle over gain. Just like in real life, we know that artists aren’t limited by one artistic discipline, and the new mnartists.org is built with community and content filters to be used in combination, allowing for browsing that more accurate to conventional artistic disciplines.Mn Artists’ programmatic structure allows for a fluid oscillation between online and offline offerings. Starting in January 2015, Mn Artists introduced a new live series in five event formats that, together, delve into issues of digital participation, arts journalism, as well as practical and topical issues pertinent to working artists. These programs bring artists and cultural producers together to talk candidly about issues relevant across artistic fields, asking questions like, ‘What’s the difference between and community and a network?’ ‘Do artists need a digital strategy?’ ‘Does the documentation of work in the arts have a life of its own online?’ ‘Does the local matter when you’re writing for a borderless, digital audience?’
Intrinsic to Mn Artists programs, is our commissioned arts journalism, which brings topical issues and real conversation occurring in our arts community to a nationally visible, digital platform. The arts writing published by mnartists.org incorporates a wide range of voices, from respected critics and academics to emerging artists and writers, who have opportunity to craft their published pieces and build a voice with the benefit of in-depth, hands-on editorial support. Our articles offer in-depth coverage of relevant issues in artistic practice and offer insights into the region’s cultural life to a wide audience of readers, by way of thoughtful reviews, features, profiles, and topical columns.A digital ecosystem plaited with a living, artistic regional ecosystem, Mn Artists offers a full complement of new tools, resources, editorial content and programming, online and off, intended to inform, promote, and connect Midwestern art and artists, cultural organizations and audiences well into the future.
Mn Artists Program Director, Jehra Patrick, will share the new platform’s story post-relaunch: how the rebuild project is working to not only rebuilding a digital platform, but to rebuild cultural conversations and artistic merit by re-investing a real community through outreach, professional development tools, and regional journalism. This presentation will share new features -well-suited for replication in other, like-minded arts communities - offer highlights from the dissemination process, and opportunities and challenges in reinvesting an art museum and an art community in a digital program.