Northern Spark's co-director/founder Steve Dietz is stepping away from his flagship all-nighter summer art festival in downtown Minneapolis that he founded in 2008. Over the next year he will phase out of the organization’s everyday administrative tasks. His last day will likely be sometime before spring 2020.
"I believe that change is positive and that it is important for generations to move on and let younger generations come in and have their own point of view and approach to things," said Dietz, when reached by phone. "This seemed like a good approach to that after 10 years."
For Dietz, the change feels "exciting and trepidatious." He does not have any solid plans regarding his next move, but is currently working closely with co-director Sarah Peters on a succession plan. He will remain onboard until he and Peters identify a new co-director.
“I always am interested in and thrive better in a collaborative leadership [arrangement],” said Peters, when reached by phone. “I think that is something that the non-for-profit art system could benefit from. It’s easy to burn out when you are an executive director.”
The announcement comes just one month before this year’s 2019 Northern Spark festival, themed “We are Here: Resilience, Renewal and Regeneration,” which will take place on Fri., June 14 and Sat., June 15 from 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. This year’s artists include Beatrix* JAR, Joshua McGarvey, Marlena Myles, Heid Erdrich & Rosy Simas Danse, Jonathan Thunder, and many others. (See a full list at 2019.northernspark.org/artists.)
Despite these personnel changes, the organization’s programming will remain largely the same. Northern Spark is launching a call for its next iteration of the Artists on the Verge program, which will take place in September 2019 at the Rochester Art Center. (Last year’s AoV group also showed at the Rochester Art Center instead of the previous location at the Soap Factory, due to that organization's loss of their flagship space.)
The 2018 edition of Northern Spark underwent big structural changes, switching from the one-night all-nighter theme to a two-night Friday and Saturday 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. festival. Though the excitement of pushing one’s body to the physical limits was lost, a lot of sleep was gained. Last year, 28 artists received stipends ranging from $1,500 to $6,000 for projects around the theme of “Commonality,” a response to the country's tense cultural and political climate.