2022 Program Recap

2022 Program Recap

Dear Community,

THANK YOU for participating in our 2022 program! We heard from visitors, artists, performers, and staff members alike how much they needed Art Shanty Projects this winter! As one artist put it:  Art Shanties 2022 was like a group polar plunge while wearing glitter tutus; a slightly insane and dazzling experiment in thickening communal connections as collective immunity against the harshness of winter and the real insanity of our shared pandemic/climate crisis reality.”

ASP continues to be ambitious in our desire to connect with our community and with the environment. This year we embraced all the things that came at us. We built community, encouraged sustainability, and took safety into account. We are proud to continue providing a vibrant space for artists and visitors to eagerly exchange with one another during the isolating months of winter (oh, and also during a pandemic…).

This year we operated at the peak of the omicron surge, when many other events were canceled, closed or postponed. We couldn’t have predicted this waaaaaay back in January 2021, when planning started, but knew we had to adapt and make significant changes to be “prepared for” any Covid uncertainty. We want to thank the creativity and ingenuity of our artists in their efforts, fully embracing this challenge with imagination, generosity, and positivity. This is the strength and beauty of Art Shanty Projects! 

We also want to thank *YOU* for your support. We hope you are proud to be part of this adventurous winter community – we can’t wait to see you next time. Please scroll down for our program recap and financial report. 

The Art Shanty Projects Board & Staff

PS – applications for the 2023 on-ice program open in mid-June! SAVE THE DATE for our Artist Forum to learn about our 2023 artist calls! June 16 @ 6pm. Zoom link / registration coming soon.

A group of ice skaters wearing black costumes and colorful berets dance for a crowd

It takes a village to build a village!

the 2022 On-Ice Program included:

28,000+ visitors
336 members
Too many dogs to count
33 sponsors (cash & in-kind)
20 performance groups
18 shanty teams
12 board members
10 open call jurors
8 merchandise vendors
6 staff members
6 food vendors
4 ASL interpreters / audio describers
More than a few cats in backpacks
2 medics
2 grant funders
1 on-ice fundraising consultant
1 snowplow person
1 official photographer 
1 graphic designer
1 park board
1 You


A performer is inside a clear clocktower
A bundled up person stands at an easel and paints a portrait of a shanty in the distance.
Two kids play with big vibrant bird puppets against a cloudy sky
Four people pose holding traditional wooden lacrosse sticks

The Program

Program planning for 2022 began in January 2021, during a staff-led design charrette—with 40 past artists and performers—made possible by grants from MRAC and MSAB. The challenges of gathering with large crowds in tiny shanties during the ongoing and unpredictable pandemic prompted the collective decision between artists, staff, and board to move to an entirely exterior festival this year (no going inside shanties). We envisioned a village filled with activity at every turn – at the shanties and the in-between spaces. This led to an intentional shift
of a few less shanties (18 total) and many more performance groups (20 total, contributing a combined 104 performance hours over the 48 festival hours). 

Half of our shanty artists were returning, and half were brand new to the program. All of them executed our new inside-out building guidelines with enthusiasm, and artists reported it was a welcome creative challenge. Exciting new performance offerings included American Ice Theatre, An Opera Theatre, and Taiko Arts Midwest, plus returning favorites like Lady Bear, zAmya Theater, and Twin Cities Native Lacrosse, among many others.

Projects are still listed on our website here!

Two smiling adults and a child pose in front of the lake with the village in the distance.
People joyfully dance in front of a shanty shaped like a giant amp

28,000+ people visited the village (we cannot possibly click the counter fast enough during peak crowds! But it’s a solid estimate). In our audience surveys,
many noted aspects of the community vibe as their ‘favorite experiences’ including: ‘laughter everywhere’, the shanty chic fashions, general attitudes, the enthusiasm of visitors, and ‘simply being there with so many joyous and creative people.’ This is exactly what our mission is about! The art isn’t in the individual projects alone, but in the overall village atmosphere and creative exchange that they collectively create.

We update our Access Plan annually, and this year a major growth area was with artists. The open call included new accessibility requirements, and we coached all artists on how to incorporate accessibility into their project design and activities. We curated a Free Store Shanty to offer winterwear to visitors. Staff integrated accessibility notes into project didactics and visitor programs, and offered our interpreters a project orientation. We also continued past accessibility initiatives (with some expansion):
ramps to shore (2 this time!), daily ASL interpreters and audio describers, kicksleds for on-ice mobility (with an expanded fleet), and alt text in all digital communications (including an update of past website images).

Art and festivals can create a lot of waste, and
we remain committed to producing the most sustainable festival possible, from art making to back-of-house decisions. As in the past, all food vendors were required to have compostable and recyclable materials; we made a stronger effort to responsibly source our back of house supplies (ex. compostable hand warmers, priority of purchasing locally, etc); and a majority of shanty artists reported using materials repurposed from past projects, or ones that were crowdsourced, scavenged, gathered or purchased used. (Only one project used entirely new materials.) Most artists reported plans for their projects / materials to have future lives. 

A person hangs up a hat on a clothesline at the Free Store Shanty
Two people push yarn through a giant colorful weaving

For the first time, we offered artist-designed and artist-made merchandise, including glittery shanty pride enamel pins from
Gigi’s Flair Emporium and ‘land back’ bandanas from Skoden Studio & Bayou. We worked to source the rest of our materials from local vendors, including Rebel Ink (hats) and Minuteman Press Uptown (adventure guides).

Our program always draws a lot of media attention! Check out a
select archive of articles and mentions in newspapers, magazines, and blogs on our website. This list doesn’t even include all the television and radio appearances we made!

Hands hold a rainbow shanty logo enamel pin
Mittened hands hold a black and white bandana with the worlds 'land back bde unma'
a screenshot of an online article from Racket
a TV host holding a mic poses with a staff member on the frozen lake. Both wear pink and purple snowpants.


Two people with outstretched arms at the red gate

Finances – What does Art Shanty Projects cost?
Playing host to 28,000+ people at an art event requires a lot of money! The majority (79.8%) of our annual $175k budget goes to
PEOPLE! Shanty artists and performers, year-round and seasonal staff (for planning, organizing, and executing!), a photographer, ASL interpreters, audio describers, medics, etc. The next largest expense category is on-ice program management (11.2%), which covers necessities like permits, sanitation, equipment rentals, event parking, liability insurance, plowing, etc. Lastly administrative expenses (a lean 9%), which include storage, software subscriptions, accounting, and minimal fundraising and marketing costs.

Where does our money come from?
Our program is all about building community and our impressive individual contributions reflect that.
Again this year the majority of our income—$79,000 or 58.7%—came from individuals, including both members and donors at the gate. Grants provided the next largest amount—26%. Earned income from merchandise sales and food vendor fees produced 9.7%, and finally cash sponsorships (many of which were new!) provided 5.6%. 

In addition to cash from sponsors, in-kind support (valued at $18,000) covered essential items such as: HOT FOOD and BEVERAGES for artists/volunteers/staff during the very long cold days on the ice, event support (food, beverages, space) for members/artists/sponsors, and other niceties and giveaways (kicksled giveaway, tickets to events, pizzas, art materials, and more!) to keep our community members energized, active and connected.

Eliminating financial barriers to arts access
We remain committed to NOT charging an admission fee. Donations are welcome (and suggested), but nobody is turned away at the gate! We ask people to give what is meaningful, joyful, and makes sense to them. And it is working! The community has demonstrated their support in both presence and dollars, allowing us to continue our program without financial barriers to participation.

Working towards financial sustainability
With this success we also have to be real: despite all our best efforts and growth, we operated with a deficit budget this season, and used some of our cushion in the bank to bridge the gap.
It was extra expensive to do this festival in a pandemic (we all know that materials/supplies cost more, and our staff spent extra hours solving new problems!). Also, some grant funding was not available or offered fewer funds than past years. The reality is that we are working very hard to become financially sustainable, we’re on the right track, but we are not there yet. And – like all arts organizations – the pandemic didn’t do us any favors! We still have money in the bank and a dedicated board of directors and staff to continue refining our fundraising strategy.

Our fiscal year ends June 30. In the meantime, staff is planning the next program, and sustaining membership dollars continue to roll in. We anticipate income and expenses to be roughly $134,500 and $175,000 respectively for FY2022. 

A person wearing an elaborate fire costume laughs as she struts by
a person plays with a hula hoop in front of a crystal shaped shanty


Merchandise and press photos courtesy ASP staff. All other photos courtesy Free Truth Media.