2020 Art Shanty Projects

Our 2020 Program

Bdé Umáŋ / Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, MN
January 18 – February 9, 2020


We had 22 shanties and 13 performance groups this year, featuring more than 100 artists. Nearly half of the artist teams were new to the shanties, and several individual artists reported that they had never been on a frozen lake before!


A crowd of people surrounds a yellow banner

Our official audience count was 27,000. We are confident that with the new perimeter and gate, this is a more accurate count than in previous years when it was often impossible to monitor from all sides. From our perspective it felt as vibrant and busy as in 2018!

On-Ice Donations and Impact

As the festival has grown to serve more visitors, our budget has simultaneously increased—it takes money/resources/staff to serve 27,000 people! 

To support this, we implemented a new on-ice fundraising plan (gate + perimeter + direct invitation to give), which was a huge success. We were delighted to work with scottie hall, who created the new plan, and Andrew Young, who designed and built the artful gate and perimeter. We are pleased to announce that we raised $63,000 in donations on the ice. With an annual budget of nearly $160,000 this year, these donations are approximately 40% of all income. The funds were directly applied to 2020 expenses to help cover artist and staff payments, as well as production and operating costs of the festival. The rest of our income sources include grant funding, sponsorships, membership contributions, food vendor fees, and merchandise sales.

The success of this plan has ensured a future for Art Shanty Projects. We will continue to request donations at the gate in future years and include this in our budget projections and fundraising plans moving forward. Amidst the landscape of many other local organizations who have had to similarly pause programming (or even close indefinitely) to reconsider financial sustainability in the past few years, we are very proud and grateful that our strategy worked and that visitors showed such generosity. To be fully transparent, if we had not reached our goal in 2020, we would most likely not be planning another on-ice season again, regardless of COVID. It was a make-it or break it moment. On-ice donations are a critical piece of our long-term organizational wellbeing.

Equity, Accessibility, Sustainability Initiatives

A visitor pushes their friend on a makeshift sled

Our new Directors worked intentionally to implement new practices grounded in equity, accessibility and sustainability for staffing, artist outreach and selection, and production logistics.

This season our three-person production team was 100% IPOC (Indigenous and People of Color) and FTW (Femme, Trans, Women) and we hired IPOC artists for additional contract positions (gate design/build; graphic design; documentation).  We also began outreach work in an effort to strengthen and develop relationships with artists and organizations who have previously not presented work on the ice with us. This included distributing the artist call in broader community networks, making sure our selection panels included BIPOC and FTW jurors, and working with partner organizations, including zAmya Theater and Better Futures Minnesota.

For the first time ever we offered ASL interpreters and audio describers EVERY DAY of our programming and we were happy to see these services utilized. With the support of one of our shanty teams (thank you, Rocky the Rockin’ Sea Shanty!), we enhanced our fleet of kicksleds for the season and were able to better transport folks around on the ice. We also worked with an accessibility consultant, Caidin Riley (IDEAS, LLC), to train staff and board, assess our current accessibility plan, and to make recommendations for further development.

Directors worked with students from the University of Minnesota Leadership Minor program to research sustainable resources, survey our shanty community, and propose information for a sustainable building guide for future artists. Extinction Rebellion also chose the shanty village as the site for the local meditation mob that was part of a national effort to raise awareness on the climate crisis. As far as we know, this was the only action done on a frozen lake!

2020 Photo gallery