Intermedia Arts wins big Kresge grant

It’s a new, brighter day for Intermedia Arts.

A year and a half ago, the multidisciplinary arts center laid off all its staff and closed its gallery in what it called a “proactive” measure when it saw some funders might not be able to deliver promised support. It then re-hired its staff as contract employees. It kept its doors open by only hosting events that required paid admission. The cut-backs lasted several months, and while it might at first have appeared draconian, in retrospect appears to have been an insightful move.

Today Intermedia Arts announced it’s the recipient of a two-year grant from the nationally recognized Kresge Foundation in the amount of $200,000. Intermedia Arts will receive $125,000 in the coming fiscal year and $75,000 in the following fiscal year.

Executive/Artistic Director Theresa Sweetland says at it’s core, the Kresge grant is for general operating funds, so it’s going to allow the organization to “keep on doing what we do.” And she’s thrilled about that.

In addition, Sweetland says Intermedia is going to invest further in a couple of its key programs. The “Catalyst” series presents work in all media by artists working for positive community change. And Intermedia’s “Arts Hub” is a space for independent artists and small organizations who are looking to share space and resources in order to cut costs.

Sweetland says since the staff cuts in December of 2008, Intermedia has hired back its literary programs manager. She says the organization now has five full time staff and eight part-time staff. A number of people are still working as contract employees or have “moved on to other things.”

Intermedia Arts, whose motto is “Art Changes Everything” has long been known in the Twin Cities for giving voice to diverse communities. From its Queer Voices reading series to its B-Girl Be celebration of women in hip-hop, to its youth media programs and First Nation performance series “Indigenous Voices,” Intermedia gives people of all walks of life the opportunity to express themselves through art.

Updated at 12:50pm