Above: An Art-A-Whirl event in 2018 at the Northrup King Building in Minneapolis. Star Tribune photo by Aaron Lavinsky.

The Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA) is back in the black after paying off $74,000 in debts. 

The funds came from a combination of a 15% increase in membership dues; a $20,000 loan from the nonprofit-support organization Propel, and a couple of major donors. 

An additional $15,000 streamed in last month through the organization’s first-ever "10x10" fundraiser. More than 400 of the organization’s members donated pieces that were 10 inches square or less, which then were sold for $35 apiece.

“We were already back in the black but now we're even more secure,” said NEMAA's executive director, Anna Becker.

Trouble erupted last October, when NEMAA missed out on an expected $60,000 grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and $20,000 in smaller grants. Former director Dameun Strange left the organization shortly thereafter, along with a part-time employee. Becker was the only person left to run the organization.

Things are looking up. While Becker remains the only full-time staff member, she has been able to hire several part-time contractors to help with communications and social media.

The organization also saw an uptick in membership after the 10x10 fundraiser; it now has nearly 1,100 members, Becker said. Annual dues now range from $35 for emerging artists and post-secondary students to $240 for business partners. High school students can join for free.

Becker said NEMAA's operating budget for the current fiscal year is “somewhere in the $300s.” By comparison, in 2017 — the most recent financial report that is publicly available — the organization's total expenses were about $494,000, and it operated at a deficit of about $106,000, according to Becker.

As for the recent announcement that Artspace Properties is buying the Northrup King complex in northeast Minneapolis, where more than 200 NEMAA members have studios, Becker said she is confident this is good news for her members. In fact, NEMAA’s outgoing board president, Greg Foley, works with Artspace as a director and asset manager. 

Noting that the Minneapolis nonprofit developer has a long track record in creating affordable studio and living space for artists and their families, Becker said she expects rents at Northrup King to remain stable.

“I even heard this rumor that they may repave the parking lot.”

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