Above: About 40,000 people visited the 2018 Art Shanty Projects on Minneapolis' Lake Harriet. Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune.

Art will be back on ice this winter.

Plans are shaping up for the return of Art Shanty Projects to frozen Lake Harriet after a year off. This week the nonprofit announced the list of 20 “art shanties” -- artist-created ice-fishing houses -- that will dot the surface of the icy lake.

It includes at least one old favorite, the Monarch Migration shanty, which offers butterfly-winged “pollinator bikes” for visitors to ride. Ten performing groups will also make chilly appearances.  

The festival will take place Jan. 18-Feb. 9, on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Because we had to take last year off, there’s even more energy building up,” said Erin Lavelle, a past shanty artist who was hired as artistic director in July. 

Art Shanty was canceled last winter after the project missed out on a major Minnesota State Arts Board grant and faced an $85,000 shortfall. Art Shanty is able to return this year because of a three-year commitment from an anonymous donor. The organization did not offer fiscal details, but Lavelle said it was “significant enough that it secured at least a temporary future” for the organization. 

Art Shanty is currently working on restructuring its fundraising plans, with a push for soliciting individual donations. Admission will remain free, but there will be a new gate at admissions with a chance to donate immediately, rather than contribute cash while wandering about the ice.

This year’s 20 shanties include the whimsically titled “The Shanty of People Who Know Things,” featuring artists 55 and older, and Sami Pfeffer’s Northern Spark project “The Archive of Apologies and Pardons,” which gives people a chance to sincerely apologize for past wrongs.

Half of the artists this year are new to the program. A full list of shanties and performances can be found here.

In an effort toward equity and inclusion, Art Shanty's staff reached out to organizations that had not been represented in their programming before. This winter zAmya Theater Project (which works with the homeless), Better Futures Minnesota (which works with formerly incarcerated men) and the Native American Community Development Institute will make their shanty debuts.

Last month, Art Shanty hired a new operations director, Arlo Sombor, who previously worked with Cycles for Change, a nonprofit organization that empowers social change through the bicycle movement.

Launched in 2005, Art Shanty was based first on Medicine Lake, then White Bear Lake, before moving in January 2018 to Harriet, where it drew approximately 40,000 people -- double the event’s previous record attendance. 

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