2012 in review: an uneasy year for the arts

Oh 2012, how to sum you up?

Of course, there was the art. I’ll leave that to the Art Hounds, who’ve done an amazing job of capturing the year’s highlights, in not one, not two, not three, but four separate posts here on the blog.

And then, there were the news stories. Looking back, most of them could be categorized under “hired/fired,” “awards won” or “grants bestowed.” A few organizations were launched, a few closed… and so it goes.

But 2012 has been about so much more than people changing jobs or getting recognition for their work. While artists continued to do what they do best, it’s also been a year marked by struggle and loss, both personal and professional.

Theater professionals demanded more diversity on Guthrie stages in response to its 50th Anniversary season announcement. Artistic Director Joe Dowling said the charge was “manufactured and bogus.”

Both the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO locked out their musicians amidst contentious contract negotiations, which have yet to be resolved.

Financial challenges forced St. Paul’s Penumbra Theater to drop an entire season. Will the Twin Cities lose yet another nationally recognized institution because of persistent and pernicious financial troubles?

Numerous artists pooled their creative talents to help defeat the Marriage Amendment in what was a nail-biting race on both sides to the very end.

We watched as young, bright stars like playwright Katie Ka Vang, actress Kate Eifrig and rapper P.O.S. battled daunting illnesses.

And finally, we said goodbye to several artists far too soon, whether it was lighting designer Jen DeGolier, photographer Ann Marsden, gallery owner Suzy Greenberg, or theater technician Andrew Wagner.

So yes, artists continued to make beautiful and compelling art, but 2012 leaves me with a bitter chill and an uneasy mind. May the year ahead bring fairer news and brighter days.