Hi, my name is Sandy Hicks and I am the Treasurer of St Louis Park Friends of the Arts aka FOTA. I joined the organization in 2010 and am thrilled to be part of an organization that supports and connects art and artists with the community.

I am life-long resident of our dear city and a patron of and supporter of the arts. I studied jazz dance for 15 years at Zenon Dance Company, co-founded an online bookstore for local independent authors and publishers which served as a model for other local book fulfillment houses, and mentored the publication of Lit Kids: Mama Bird and the Electric Rabbit, a collection of work written by students in the 2007 Literary Arts program at Perpich Center for Arts Education. 

Back in the early 90’s, when FOTA was a grass roots movement of parents trying keep art activities a vital part of St Louis Park schools a friend and neighbor of mine was part of that initial group of founders. I was proud of her at the time and thankful for the group’s efforts, trusting they would succeed. Little did I know at the time, that FOTA would become an official arts organization of the city and I would eventually serve as its Treasurer!

FOTA has developed beautifully over the past 20 years and so has the programming. Our bi-annual Our Town program has introduced the community to several arts forms: the art of photography in 2008; poetry and spoken word in 201; drumming and percussion in 2012. We are currently planning for the 4th Our Town program: “Nature & Art”, scheduled to take place during May – September 2014. Some of the planned programming will be a juried art show, an open art exhibit sketching workshops. These activities will be designed to reach people in all corners of our fair city to bring artists and the community together through nature. AND ALL of this is FREE!

FOTA’s connection with the community is another thing I love about this. As we all know, St Louis Park is a very diverse community, with a vibrant mix of young and old, life-long residents and new incomers, families and singles, and a great range of economic and racial diversity. This diversity is one of the reasons my husband and I decided to stay and raise our kids in the Park and are proud of FOTA’s mission to embrace the cities diversity as well and make arts accessible to ALL groups. FOTA does this by bringing programs to the people and by helping people have access to the arts.

I welcome you all to participate in our various programs (see our calendar) and join us in our mission to enhance the arts in St Louis Park and become a member!

FoTA presents: Creative Writing Circles

Tuesdays April 2, 9, 16, 23
6:30--8:00 pm
Lenox Center
6715 Minnetonka Ave
St Louis Park, MN

Creative Writing Circle: Using a simple writing technique, we will access our authentic voice. We will learn ways to generate material and break through writing resistance. We will explore what makes a story resonate, the elements that shape it into compelling reading and how details make it come alive on the page.  All levels of writers welcome, from high school students to seniors.

Presented by seasoned teacher and author Wendy Brown-Báez. Besides publishing two books of poetry, Wendy's prose and poetry have appeared in numerous literary journals. She has presented writing workshops at local organizations such as the Women & Spirituality Conference at MSU Mankato, Unity Christ Church, The Aliveness Project, MCTC Continuing Ed, Cornerstone, Harriet Tubman, MPLS Community Ed, Hennepin County Central Library, The Bridge for Youth and Face to Face Academy.

Wendy Brown-Báez is a fiscal year 2012 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota State Legislature from the State’s art and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov, 4, 2008.
FoTA was delighted to learn we have been awarded a grant to expand our community outreach effort to share information and resources regarding arts activities in SLP. The grant will also allow us to increase the number of scholarships we are able to award in our Arts for Life Scholarship program.

"We are grateful to the St. Louis Park Community Foundation for all their support of our arts programming," said Susan Schneck, Board Chair. "This grant will allow us to get the word out to everyone in our community about the arts programs and resources that are available to them, and help us give away more scholarships to those who are not able to pursue an arts opportunity due to financial constraints," she added. 

See the info block below for the upcoming Arts for Life scholarship opportunity.  For questions or comments please email info@slpfriendsofthearts.org or call (952) 928-6422.


Please join us on October 25, 2012 7:15 PM at the Rec Center for a Town Hall Meeting on the Arts. The purpose of the Town Hall meeting is two-fold: to provide an overview of all the arts organizations, programs and activities that are currently happening in St. Louis Park, and to hear from community members about what you value about the arts and the role you would like the arts to play in our city’s future plans.

The meeting will be facilitated by Carlo Cuesta of Creation in Common, a local consulting firm for nonprofit organizations that want to strengthen their communities through the arts.

“We have seen tremendous growth in and demand for the arts in St. Louis Park over the past few years,” said FoTA Board Chair, Susan Schneck. “The FoTA Board feels it is vital that we begin an arts planning process now because we see exciting possibilities for expanded programming, arts organization support and other community partnership opportunities emerging,” she added. 


Our Town: Beats & Streets summer drumming program kicks off on May 20th, 2012 at the Children First Ice Cream Social from 2-5 pm at Wolfe Park with a drumming performance by Chico Perez and Stanley Kipper of the New Primitives from 3-4 pm. In an interactive drumming concert, Chico and Stan will share their message of finding common ground and understanding through percussion.

Stanley Kipper returned to Minneapolis in 1989 after nearly 20 years in Los Angeles touring and recording with such artists as Bill Withers, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and Karla Bonoff. Stanley has composed songs for several films and commercials, and has also won top honors in the Coors Light National Song Contest.

Chico Perez has been an active percussionist for many years, touring with such groups as Crow Cola, Gypsy, Jump Street, and 7th Wave. His professional career includes numerous studio projects, as well as keeping busy as a drum-maker and teaching African and Afro-Cuban percussion at the Minneapolis Drum Center.

When asked about performing, Stan said, "I love knowing that what we are going to be showing people is like letting everyone in on something they forgot along the way but already know deep down. Something that we all share in common. Everyone, everyone can play drums; everyone has rhythm." he added.  Chico agreed, "It's a great way to make complete strangers feel better than they did before they came to see us. They may have the blues when they arrive but certainly not after they leave. If they were happy when they got there, they will be feeling really good by the time we finish."

Make sure you stop by the FoTA table before the concert to make your own maraca to play along with Stan and Chico during their performance!

Our Town is a community arts program sponsored by FoTA with a mission of Building Community thru the Arts.  This year's drum program, Beats & Streets, was especially designed and programmed by FoTA to promote the concept of One World, One Beat - we can all be part of the rhythm. Together we are more than one. This program is also funded in part by FoTA. Please come be part of the rhythm and see your membership dollars at work. Full summer drumming schedule at www.SLPFriendsoftheArts.org

Our Town is funded in part by the Metro Regional Arts Council, through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State's general fund, and its arts and cultural heritage fund that was created by a vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.  Additional support was provided by the Harmon Family Foundation and the St. Louis Park Community Foundation.

In January, FoTA welcomed new board member, Mark Hauck, a freelance theater director and designer, owner of COTY- award-winning design studio division of Bluestem Construction, former Hopkins High School Theater Director, and the Founder and Executive Producing Director of the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona.   

As a lifelong professional theater artist and arts educator, Mark's goal is to find meaningful connections between the work of professional artists and the communities they serve.  After teaching students in Hopkins for five years, Mark came to appreciate the difficult role of theater educators. He became interested in bridging the divide between educational, community and professional theater. This interest led him to create the Public Theater of MN which has its home in St. Louis Park.

This community-based theater company is committed to making theater where people live and combines community, educational and professional aspects so everyone can get involved. The organization has a professional stage company performing classics and new plays, a community company for anyone interested in taking part in theater, and a new artist company for emerging young artists to have a voice and take a risk. 

"In my diverse career, I have been struck by how professional theater companies do not often work with or talk enough to theater educators or community theaters. Each works in its own world separated from each other which seems to be the antitheses of what theater is all about," said Mark. "I wanted to create a place where we could all come together as theater professionals and support each other's work, create community and learn together," he added.

Recently, the Public Theater of MN received a 2012 St. Louis Park Arts and Culture grant to present, Live in Wolfe Park, a series of FREE weekend performances in July of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The Arts & Culture Grant Program administered in partnership with FoTA, highlights our community's commitment to promoting and integrating arts, culture, and aesthetics in all city initiatives.   

"St. Louis Park was a natural fit for our company," said Mark. "When we looked for a hometown, we wanted a place where there were a lot of theater goers and support for theater but not as many theater opportunities. I am delighted to be a part of the rich theater community that supports Maggie's Farm and The Park Theater Company and look forward to some wonderful collaborative efforts," he emphasized.

In his spare time, Mark is raising money to support the Public Theater of MN's infrastructure (equipment costs for the summer series are $10,000 alone!), directing shows at other venues and pursuing ongoing research which examines the role of the arts in youth development and adult well-being, focusing on the biological/neurological roots of art-making activity.

To learn more about Mark and The Public Theater of MN, please visit www.ptmn.org.

Bring your favorite blanket or lawn chair and make yourself comfortable while you enjoy a picnic in the park before each performance of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Performances run, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, July 6 - 22, 8PM. -10PM.

Great news for artists and public art patrons everywhere!   The city of St. Louis Park has added a new website all about public art in St. Louis Park- http://www.stlouispark.org/arts-culture/st-louis-park-public-art.html.  The city has this to say about art in SLP:

"St. Louis Park is committed to promoting and integrating arts, culture and community aesthetics in all city initiatives, including implementation where appropriate. Through various partnerships, the city has promoted and celebrated the creation of public art throughout the community."

You can learn more about many of the city's public art projects by visiting links highlighting projects like The Birds Nest at Westwood Nature Center by Jonee Kulman Brigham, The Celebration of Peace at Wolfe Park by Evelyn Raymond, and many more. 

St. Louis Park Friends of the Arts(FotA) is seeking members from the community with a passion for the arts to fill several vacancies on its Board of Directors for 2012.  FotA is a nonprofit community organization dedicated to supporting, organizing, enhancing and promoting all art forms in St. Louis Park. FOTA connects people and organizations around the arts, shares arts-related information and resources and coordinates community arts programs

Directors serve 3-year terms and are expected to attend monthly meetings and serve on committees or fulfill volunteer duties that total approximately 4 hours per month. The Board meets the last Thursday of the month at 7 pm at City Hall. Anyone interested is encouraged to attend an upcoming meeting on Thursday, November 17at 7 p.m.  New Board members will be installed at the January meeting. 

Friends of the Arts’ Board is especially interested in local business representatives, attorneys, copywriters and others who could bring expertise to the organization. The Board is also searching for members that reflect the diversity of our community in age, gender and ethnicity.

Persons interested in participating as Directors should contact the FoTA office at 952-928-6422 or email
info@SLPFriendsoftheArts.org for an application form and additional information.
The story of Friends of the Arts (FotA) is best told by the lives we touch.

Our story is told by six-year-old Shelby, a very bright but shy little girl. She really loves music and wanted to take dance lessons. Her young parents thought this was a good idea but just couldn’t figure out how to manage this with their already stretched budget. Then Shelby’s mother found a brochure about FotA’s Arts for Life scholarships and decided to look into the opportunity. Five months later Shelby was a vibrant dancer in her first recital at a local dance studio thanks to the scholarship. “She just blossomed – her body, her mind, her whole self,” said her mom. And now she says Shelby’s being more social at school, she has friends, she has learned so much and become more confident in every aspect of her life.

Our story is told by the retired University professor who reads his original poetry at Friends of the Arts Poetry jams and now feels like part of the fabric of his community. He makes new connections and inspires others.

Our story is the story of local artists that are building connections through the opportunities provided by our various programs.

These stories are possible because of community support at all levels. These stories are possible because of generous individuals and businesses that donate both time and money. These stories are possible thanks to those that believe in the power of art and the creative experience.

Thank you for being part of that story.