If Hennepin Theatre Trust has its way, Hennepin Avenue will soon become friendlier, more fun and more surprising (in a good way).
The trust announced Tuesday it has received a $200,000 creative place-making grant from Southwest Airlines. The money will be used to brighten a five-block span between 5th and 10th streets. The trust operates four theaters — the State, Pantages, Orpheum and New Century — on Hennepin.
Plans may include increased green space, street entertainment and pop-up stages on surface parking lots, said Joan Vorderbruggen, director of public art for the trust. It will work with the New York-based Project for Public Spaces to determine the most effective use of funds.
"Concentrating the activities within five blocks will make it feel authentically special, with a lot for people to do," she said.
The project is funded by the Southwest Airlines program Heart of the Community, a recent foray into arts philanthropy for the company, which launched its first public-art projects in 2013. The Hennepin trust was chosen as one of five among 90 applicants because "they already have such solid experience at place-making and play a huge role in the ongoing vision for this cultural arts district," said Southwest spokeswoman Laura Hoagland.
Previous spruce-up projects spearheaded by the trust include two large murals — including a five-story-high portrait of Bob Dylan — the ongoing "Made Here" program that commissions local artists to fill empty storefront windows, and several temporary pop-up "parklots" turning parking lots into hangout spaces.
The trust is seeking public input, Vorderbruggen said.
"We really want feedback from all parts of the community about what we're going to do, to make sure it's something people want."