Above: Hayden Alexander, left, 20 of Woodbury and Blake Vang, 21, of Lake Elmo skated for the first time at Juxtaposition Arts skateable art park on the corner of N Broadway and N Emerson Avenues Friday, June 14, 2019, in North Minneapolis. "I like it a lot," Alexander said of the skate park. Photo by David Joles for the Star Tribune.

The North Side-based nonprofit arts organization Juxtaposition Arts just took home another big grant, this time to the tune of $50,000 from U.S. Bank.

JXTA, as it's known, will use the funds to help launch their first year of programming for the skate-able art plaza, which opened last June in partnership with City of Skate, a coalition of Minnesota skaters, parents and skate enthusiasts.

The skate-able art plaza is far more popular than JXTA chief executive DeAnna Cummings anticipated, becoming a hub for events, video shoots, rallies and neighborhood gatherings.

“In terms of all the things we have ever done in the 25 years of doing this work, [the skate-able art plaza] is amongst one of the best things we have ever done - and that’s not an exaggeration -  because it is a really open-armed gesture and invitation for people, for the skate community, for our neighborhood. It is a real asset,” Cummings said.

The flip side of this is that a skate-able art plaza needs care and maintenance. It costs about $3,000 a month for the personnel and physical maintenance of the park. JXTA's grant will go toward maintenance, along with hiring a part-time staff member from City of Skate who will be at the park offering lessons, loaning out boards and being a watchful eye.

The funds come from U.S. Bank's inaugural Market Impact Fund, which will offer $1 million annually through 20 grants of $50,000 each. “Establishing this new fund allows us to further focus our efforts on supporting those organizations like Juxtaposition Arts which are working to close historical economic gaps in the areas of greatest need,” said Tessa Eddy, Twin Cities community affairs manager for U.S. Bank.

JXTA has raised $230,000 toward the skate-able art plaza, a mixture of monies from the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, the National Endowment for the Arts, a Kickstarter Campaign and now U.S. Bank.

The skate-able art plaza originally was built as a temporary way to fill the vacant lot at the corner of Emerson and West Broadway while JXTA raised funds for its $14 million capital campaign, which it launched in May 2018, to build a new headquarters facility there. But the skate-able art plaza has become more than just a plaza – it’s also a neighborhood gathering space that includes a vibrant mural backdrop from recent JXTA artist-in-residence and Bronx-based graffiti artists-turned-muralists Tats Cru.

JXTA is on the fence about whether the plaza will stay, but they should have a better idea of the next steps by summer 2020.

“The work we do is always trying to lean into and live into what it could be, like the potential of the thing,” Cummings said. “And then sometimes we get bowled over by the power of that thing manifesting – like woah, we didn’t realize it was gonna be like that.”

 

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