What’s happening on Hennepin Avenue? Plenty.

You can Plan-It Hennepin, Walk-It Hennepin and, this Thursday and Saturday, March 8 at 7 p.m. and March 10 at 9:30 a.m., you can Talk-It Hennepin. Just join us and our project partners at the Minneapolis Central Library for the launch of this FREE and free-wheeling series of public conversations and workshops focused on city planning and design, especially as it relates to downtown Minneapolis and the Plan-It initiative for the cultural revitalization of Hennepin Avenue.

Pantages Theatre 1920 on Hennepin Avenue, Photo Credit: Charles Hibbard

There’s a growing excitement, energy and momentum behind the project. For example, check out this hot-off-the-presses March 3 Star Tribune article “Filling in Hennepin Avenue’s Culture Cracks: A coalition of arts groups wants to make one long cultural corridor from the Sculpture Garden to the river on Hennepin Avenue—and they’re asking for your input.”

The Talk-It discussion/workshops, in short, will feature some of today’s foremost visionaries in city renewal and urban design to help spark lively public discussions to guide downtown planning. Panelists will include people like Candy Chang, known for combining street art and social activism with projects like her fill-in-the-blank “I Wish This Was” stickers for people to express what they want in vacant storefronts; and Charles Landry, renowned for his book The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators, which has helped spur a global movement to rethink the planning, development and management of cities by connecting culture and creativity to urban transformation.

Candy Chang "Before I Die"- Photo by Civic Center

The talks are paired with follow-up, hands-on workshops conducted by Twin Cities’ artists to take the conversation into more active methods of defining values, vision and goals.

Working with Walker Art Center, Artspace and the City of Minneapolis, we’ve introduced Talk-It Hennepin to help collect creative ideas and feedback from the people who care the most about Hennepin Avenue—downtown residents, workers, employers and visitors alike. Funded through a National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant, it is part of the larger Plan-It Hennepin initiative to creatively re-imagine this storied avenue as a revitalized cultural corridor running from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to the Mississippi River.

This first Talk-It panel discussion will delve into the history of the Avenue from its 17th century origins as a Dakota footpath and trade route between Lake Calhoun and the Mississippi River to its emergence as modern commercial thoroughfare encompassing theatre, restaurants, housing and business ventures complete with the usual urban challenges of safety, traffic and upkeep.

Candy Chang Career Path- Photo by Pete Koivunen

The Talk-It series continues on Thursday, April 26 at the Walker Art Center with Candy Chang as guest speaker for the conversation, followed by the Saturday, April 28 workshop led by local artists. Details will be announced soon on the final two Talk-It Hennepin discussion/workshops, including information on related May events involving Charles Landry. All of these events and workshops are free, but we do request RSVPs as space is limited.

As owner and steward of the historic the Orpheum, State and Pantages Theatres, we attract more than 515,000 people downtown each year who consider Hennepin Avenue an extension of the theatre experience. So we are deeply invested in the long term health and vitality of a downtown that serves a broad, diverse and active public.

This is why we’re asking you to talk the talk and walk the walk. If you can’t attend Talk-It in person, please visit our website to share your thoughts, view historical photos, read feature articles about the project and stop by the Plan-It Facebook page to take the Walk-It survey. We welcome your input!

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