Announcing Northern Spark 2019: June 14 and 15
612.284.2815 (voice mail)
2751 Hennepin Avenue South / Ste. 231
Minneapolis, MN 55408


Announcing Northern Spark 2019: June 14 and 15

Announcing Northern Spark 2019: June 14 and 15

The two-night, free public art festival explores the theme We Are Here: Resilience, Renewal, & Regeneration in the American Indian Cultural Corridor in Minneapolis, The Commons in downtown Minneapolis and the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul.

(Minneapolis, MN) January 23, 2018 — Northern announces the ninth annual Northern Spark, the free arts festival illuminating public spaces in the Twin Cities. This year, artists will explore the theme We Are Here: Resilience, Renewal, & Regeneration with projects in three walkable and transit-accessible locations—the American Indian Cultural Corridor in Minneapolis, The Commons in downtown Minneapolis, and the Rondo neighborhood in St. Paul.

For the second year in a row, Northern Spark will take place on two nights—Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15—starting at dusk (9 pm) and ending at 2 am.

We Are Here: Resilience, Renewal, & Regeneration

Every year, Northern Spark creates a theme to inspire artists’ creativity around cultural and societal issues. This year’s theme was generated through responses from people and organizational partners in the communities of Northern Spark 2019.

Northern, along with the 2018-2019 Program Council (more info below), explored new ways of determining the festival theme by involving community input. Northern engaged with community members during neighborhood events at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center and Native American Community Development Initiative’s Four Sister’s Market over the summer to ask people what challenges or celebrations their communities face everyday.

The various responses were molded by the Program Council into the overarching theme, We Are Here. The subthemes Resilience, Renewal & Regeneration were formed to contextualize the theme and inspire artists and audience.  

The theme also grounds this year’s Creative City Challenge, a competition for artists, architects and designers in Minnesota, a showcase for local creative talent and a tangible symbol of the complex stories that make up the many narratives within our urban landscape. The CCC commission supports an interactive artwork sited in The Commons through the end of August. Opening on the night of Northern Spark and supported by the Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy program of the City of Minneapolis, in partnership with Green Minneapolis, the competition winner will be announced in March.  

We Are Here is a collectively authored call to our communities to raise their voices,” says Teeko Yang, Program Council and Projects Manager at Northern

“As we say in the theme document we wrote with the Program Council: ‘Claiming space is one of the most powerful actions anyone can take. For people who do not see themselves or hear voices like their own in the dominant culture around us, raising their voice can mean the difference between invisibility or resilience, renewal, and regeneration.’”  

A full roster of Northern Spark artists will be announced in March.

Northern Spark 2019 Locations

The venues for Northern Spark 2019 are in Minneapolis and Saint Paul:

  • American Indian Cultural Corridor in Minneapolis
  • The Commons in downtown Minneapolis
  • Hallie Q Brown Community Center in the Rondo neighborhood of Saint Paul

Dates and Times

In 2019, Northern Spark will take place over two nights, the third weekend in June:

  • Friday, June 14, from 9 pm to 2 am
  • Saturday, June 15, from 9 pm to 2 am

Programming and art will be the same each night unless noted.

Northern Spark at The Commons will also be the site for a reception for the national conference of Americans for the Arts, taking place in the Twin Cities June 13-16.

More information will be available in February at

Announcing the 2018-2019 Program Council

Left to Right: Sara Endalew, Zahra Muse, Donald Thomas, Alex Buffalohead, Mary Anne Quiroz, SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE, Aki Shibata, Pa Na Lor.

The Program Council is a program of Northern that brings together Twin Cities arts community thought-leaders to meaningfully engage the public through the annual Northern Spark Festival. In 2016, Northern Lights formed the first Program Council to design the artist open calls, jury artists, and develop relationships with communities of color for “Northern Spark along the Green Line” in 2017.

The first Program Council helped influence Northern Lights to think differently about how to address tough challenges of access and opportunities in all aspects of the organization. To bolster our ongoing commitment to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in our programs, Northern Lights has made the Council an ongoing program of our organization. The second cohort of the Program Council members is focusing on the festival theme and artist engagement for the Creative City Challenge and Northern Spark 2019.

Northern is excited to be working with this extraordinary group of artists and organizers of various disciplines. The Program Council has been working diligently with Northern to address the challenges of racial diversity and community access throughout every aspect of Northern Spark.

2018-2019 Program Council members: Aki Shibata, Sara Endalew, Zahra Muse, Donald Thomas Jr., Alex Buffalohead, Mary Anne Quiroz, SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE, and Pa Na Lor. More information about the Program Council and member bios.

Northern Spark Community Partners

Northern Spark has always been a collaborative effort. Northern is grateful for the generous involvement of several organizations in the support and programming of Northern Spark 2019. Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, Aurora St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, Model Cities, Penumbra Theater, Native American Community Development Institute, Visions Merging, Green Minneapolis and The Commons and the Arts, Culture and Creative Economy Program of the City of Minneapolis. More presenting partners will be announced in February.

Northern Spark Background

Since 2011 thousands of Minnesotans and visitors have enjoyed Northern Spark, an annual arts festival illuminating public spaces in Minneapolis and St. Paul. In early June, tens of thousands of people gather to explore giant video projections, play in temporary installations in the streets, and enjoy experimental performances in green spaces. Late into the night the city surprises you: friendly crowds, glowing groups of cyclists, an unexpected path through the urban landscape, the magic of sunrise after a night of amazing art and experiences.

Northern Spark began as a dusk-to-dawn event. In 2018 we introduced a new model for attendees to experience the artful magic of Northern Spark for two nights in a row until 2 am.

Memorable projects from past Northern Spark festivals include Chris Larson’s Celebration/Love/Loss, Jim Campbell’s Scattered Light, Luke Savisky’s Ex-MN, Pramila Vasudevan’s Census, and countless other projects from artists such as: Ananya Dance Theater, Marina Zurkow, HOTTEA, and Million Artist Movement.

Northern Spark is produced by Northern, a Twin Cities non-profit arts organization whose work ranges from large-scale public art platforms like Northern Spark to Art(ists) On the Verge, a year­long mentorship program for 5 emerging artists working with digital culture. We support artists in the creation and presentation of art in the public sphere, such as at St. Paul’s Union Depot (Amateur Intelligence Radio), “choir karaoke” at the Minnesota State Fair (Giant Sing Along) and Illuminate South Loop, a mini outdoor festival of nine interactive projects in Bloomington, MN’s South Loop in the days leading up to the 2018 Super Bowl. Through projects such as Aquanesia, a location-­based environmental mystery game, and large scale festivals themed around social issues, our work helps audiences explore expanded possibilities for civic engagement through art.





Amy Danielson, 612.245.2020

Photo Highlights


Twitter: @NL_mn

Instagram: @Northern