Could the National Endowment for the Arts help rebuild the North Side?

Fresh from a conference in South Carolina, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said it’s a possibility. Rybak participated in a roundtable of sorts with other mayors at the Mayors’ Institute for City Design session, where he described the past challenges and future of north Minneapolis.

He said NEA head Rocco Landesman was impressed with the renovation of the Capri Theater on West Broadway and improvements to Juxtaposition Arts on Emerson Ave.

“He said the opportunity in north Minneapolis was very promising,” Rybak said. “And if something emerges from the community that ties arts and economic development together, we should apply [for a grant].”

Rybak added, “They saw potential to play a role in helping to bring together different parts of federal funding, including arts funding, to help … rebuilding efforts.”

Other mayors at the working group represented Detroit, Tampa, Louisville, Lexington, Ky., and Anchorage. Rybak said he largely spoke about ongoing challenges in North Minneapolis and where initial rebuilding efforts should be focused.

“I presented the points that we’ve done a lot of work in North Minneapolis and the tornado was an enormous setback,” Rybak said. “But if we don’t want to rebuild north Minneapolis exactly like it was, what’s a better future?”

That talk included rebuilding tornado-ravaged areas, the potential light rail line in North Minneapolis, as well as the future of Penn Avenue and the 26th Avenue bike way, Rybak said.