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Northern Spark is taking 2020 off

Northern Spark

Northern Spark Bethany Birnie

Since 2011, the annual fest Northern Spark has turned the Twin Cities into a nighttime art installation running ‘til the early hours of the morning.

Event organizers announced this morning that the sprawling arts celebration will be taking a year off. That doesn’t mean that the crew will be taking time off, however. They plan to use their leap year to regroup and reconsider the future of Northern Spark.

According to the release sent this morning, Northern Lights, the organization that puts the festival on each year, is in a period of transition. That includes leadership; earlier this year, founder Steve Dietz announced that he would be moving on, with co-director Sarah Peters taking the helm.

“We have experimented with many different models for Northern Spark over the years,” says Peters. “In the life cycle of such an event, it is time to focus all of this innovation and figure out what to take forward.”

The org is also looking to improve on sustainability and inclusiveness. That means finding ways to be less reliant on grants, and continuing with its program council, a group of independent artists who are exploring new ways to make Northern Spark accessible and racially equitable, both for participating artists and attendees.

Over the years, the festival has played around with a variety of formats, locations, and themes. Early years saw the event sprawl throughout the city, with happenings by the Walker, the Mia, downtown, and by Stone Arch Bridge. Other years, the group made its way to Lowertown, St. Paul. Most recently, happenings have focused on areas in downtown Minneapolis.

Northern Spark plans to return in June 2021.