Dreaming of Next Winter

Dreaming of Next Winter
An illustration from artist Angela Maki-North depicting ideas from the charrette process.

We’ve been adventuring outside on our own this winter – and daydreaming and scheming together, virtually – all to imagine how our return to the ice next winter might look. While the course of the pandemic is still unknown and may still be lingering, we’re working on adapting our program to reconvene with you in January 2022, in the safest way possible. Read below for an exciting recap from our recent design charrette!

Pictured: Artists and facilitators from the online shanty charrette sessions, February 2021

For two weekends in late January / early February we hosted a design charrette with past artists over zoom to work towards our 2022 program. Developed and facilitated by our Directors and seasonal Production Team – and with topics sourced from the community (you!), board members, staff, volunteers and the artists themselves — 38 past artists and performers worked collaboratively and individually to help us envision the future shanty village. With a commitment to keeping the essential spirit of the Art Shanty Projects community alive, we considered program adaptations related to the evolving guidelines and concerns brought forth by the pandemic (such as physical distancing, masking, shared air, ventilation, etc), and the need to be more flexible and nimble as we face increasingly unpredictable weather and ice conditions due to climate change. Artists were compensated for their time, and were given materials to support and illustrate their creative process. We’re overwhelmed (in a good way!) with the creativity and energy the charrette participants invested towards taking on these challenges and enthusiastically offering ways to adjust for next winter. Their valuable input will inform our overall program structure, new artist call guidelines and requirements, and production logistics / village design.

One design challenge asked what the function of a shanty could be if visitors were not allowed inside – and artists came up with designs to offer engagement through take-out-style windows, aquarium-style viewing, or other whimsical doors, bank-teller tubes and contraptions to facilitate exchange. Big picture village re-design challenges include mitigating bottlenecks and lines or limiting entry on busy days. While we have many decisions yet to make on how to move the festival forward, we’ve gathered a LOT of ideas to work with and are excited about the possibilities. We left with a renewed commitment to presenting an in-person festival next year (with perhaps some companion virtual components) with creative adaptations to make the outdoor experience for visitors even more vibrant (reducing the need to share air inside small shanty structures). This may include more performers and types of performances, additional movement activities, new design requirements to ensure shanties are more easily movable (to prepare for melting conditions), and an increased focus on the physical environment of the frozen lake.

We’ll keep the community informed as we make our decisions – and will offer more public forums for all interested artists to meet (virtually) in advance of the application deadline to discuss program changes that will impact their proposed projects and the village as a whole.

Many thanks to Wet Paint for providing lovely sketch pads and artist materials to support the creative process of this project!  We encourage you to visit them (online or in-store) for all your artistic needs. Stay tuned to our social media, which will highlight some of the visual illustrations of artist ideas.

This activity was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.