MSP Cultural Spotlights: Arts & Culture
LOCAL TALENT TO EXPLORE IN THE GREATER MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL REGION
DISCOVER BIPOC ARTISTS + CREATIVES IN MSP
MSP is represented by many creatives and spaces that showcase unique perspectives and talents. From authors to singers, podcasters, and more, we have a scene for everyone. We want to shine well-deserved spotlights on the culturally relevant talent here in MSP
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Authors & Writers
Amalia Moreno-Damgaard | Amalia Moreno-Damgaard is a nine-time award-winning author and chef entrepreneur with a prior executive career in corporate America. Born and raised in Guatemala City, her best-selling book, Amalia’s Guatemalan Kitchen -Gourmet Cuisine with a Cultural Flair, is a personal memoir and recipe collection designed to encourage and empower people to explore new foods and cook more fresh meals at home for health and wellness.
André M. Carrington | André Carrington is a scholar of race, gender, and genre in Black and American cultural production. He is Associate Professor of English at the University of California-Riverside. His first book, Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction interrogates the cultural politics of race in the fantastic genres through studies of science fiction fanzines, comics, film and television, and other speculative fiction texts.
Briana Lawrence | Briana Lawrence went from immersing herself in geeky fan fiction to actually writing about the geeky things she loved for several anime and video game review sites. However, it was her discovery of National Novel Writing Month that made her go back to creating her own characters and plots in her current novels “I Am Magical” and “You Are Magical”.
DC Edwards | DC Edwards is a writer, pop culture junkie, and Afrofuturist whose writing often centers on issues of social justice and family karma. Depending on her mood, that writing can take the form of anything from urban fantasy to literary fiction to creative non-fiction.
Erika Lee | One of the nation’s leading immigration and Asian American historians, Erika Lee teaches American history at the University of Minnesota, where she is a Regents Professor, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History, and the Director of the Immigration History Research Center. The granddaughter of Chinese immigrants, Lee grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, attended Tufts University, and received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.
Junauda Petrus-Nasah | Junauda Petrus-Nasah is a creative activist, writer, and multi-dimensional performance artist who was born on Dakota land, West-Indian descent, and African-sourced. Her work centers around Black wildness, futurism, ancestral healing, sweetness, spectacle, and shimmer.
Kao Kalia Yang | Kao Kalia Yang is an award-winning Hmong-American writer. She is the author of the memoirs The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, The Song Poet, and Somewhere in the Unknown World. Yang is also the author of the children’s books, A Map Into the World, The Shared Room, and The Most Beautiful Thing.
Marlon James | Award-winning author Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970, but now divides his time between Minnesota and New York. Three notable books by Marlon James include Black Leopard, Red Wolf, A Brief History of Seven Killings, and The Book of Night Women. You can also tune into his podcast Marlon & Jake Read Dead People for their unfiltered and hilarious takes on the authors that readers know, love, and debate.
May Lee Yang | May Lee Yang’s experience as a Hmong American has deeply influenced my approach to art. She came of age in the nineties, a time when most texts about the Hmong was written by non-Hmong people. This was simply because the Hmong were an orally-based culture and literacy was still new. She never takes it for granted now that she has the capacity to write in my own voice.
Resmaa Menakem | Moving from race to culture to creation is important, transformative and takes work. Resmaa Menakem, New York Times Best-Selling author, helps people, communities, and organizations find strength in healing that is holistic and resilient. He is a healer, helps people rise through the suffering’s edge, a cultural trauma navigator, a communal provocateur, and a coach.
Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay | Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao American writer. She was born in a refugee camp in Nongkhai, Thailand, and immigrated to Minnesota in 1985. Because of her unique background, her work is focused on creating tools and spaces for the amplification of refugee voices through poetry, theater, and experimental cultural production.
신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin | Sun Yung Shin was born in Seoul, Korea, during 박 정 희 Park Chung-hee’s military dictatorship, and grew up in the Chicago area. She is a successful and bestselling author, editor, and community organizer. Sun Yung Shin lives in Minneapolis where she co-directs the community organization Poetry Asylum with poet Su Hwang.
T Aaron Cisco | T. Aaron Cisco is a Contemporary Afrofuturism author, television producer, and contributing writer for Twin Cities Geek. Cisco was born and raised in Chicago, and for over a decade, has called the Twin Cities home.
Podcasts & Podcasters
The Diversity Dude Podcast | Reggie Clark is a Human Resource Leader and Diversity and Inclusion subject-matter expert. He specializes in human resource development and coaching leadership to succeed in developing inclusion strategies. For over 20 years, Reggie has facilitated greater equity and diversity through the development and implementation of policies, programs, and procedures.
Dr. Verna’s Virtues Podcast | Each week, best-selling author and human potential expert Dr. Verna Price shares the keys you need to live a successful life on her new podcast Dr. Verna’s Virtues. If you want to grow your business, lose weight, or get a promotion, listening to Dr. Verna will empower and inspire you to achieve your goals.
J.E.T. Setting Divas Podcast | Jeanette, Evette, and Tina are globe-trotting travelers who have been everywhere from Bali to see the gates of heaven to Cincinnati rock out at the annual Jazz Festival (and of course, try some of the city’s legendary chili). Hear about all their fun and adventures on the new podcast J.E.T. Setting Divas.
Laughing With Letta Podcast | Laughing with Letta is a peek into the life, experience, and perspective of Emmy award-winning comedian and broadcaster Sheletta “Letta” Brundidge. Each week Letta will laugh with one of her fabulously fun, engaging, and opinionated friends. Listeners can count on them to get down to earth when discussing real issues, with a little celebrity gossip sprinkled in to keep it interesting.
Life After Loss | When Darcea Handy lost her son shortly after giving birth, she was suicidal. But with God’s grace, counseling, and family support, she decided life was worth living again. She shares her remarkable success story and offers hope on her new weekly podcast Life After Loss, a safe place for angel moms and dads.
Mommy & Me | Sheletta and her teenage son Andrew have hit a rough patch in their relationship. He wants to be more independent, but she won’t let go. How will they resolve their daily struggle to navigate the treacherous teen years? By talking it out every week on the Mommy & Me Podcast.
Native Lights Podcast | Native Lights Podcast amplify stories of people within Minnesota’s Native communities. They explore the history, work, strength, and resiliency of Native people who are shaping the future while appreciating those who came before.
Take Authority Over Autism Podcast | Three of Sheletta Brundidge’s four children have autism, but that’s not the only reason she’s known as Minnesota’s Autism Mom. She is a tireless advocate for parents of special needs kids. On her new podcast, Taking Authority Over Autism, she gives moms and dads the tools they need to succeed on their autism journey.
The Teen Whisperer Podcast | Known as The Teen Whisperer, Minneapolis-based counselor Jason Clopton is able to help teens open up when their moms and dads can’t get them to talk. On his podcast, Jason tells parents they are not the problem, but they are part of the solution when it comes to improving their child’s mental health.
UnderRepresented Podcast | Calvin Buchanan and Cornel Beard bring you a weekly Design and Culture podcast talking about the world of Design from the Black perspective while exploring and sharing stories of their professional careers. Learn something new, or send in questions to ask advice.
White On Rice Podcast | White on Rice is a podcast exploring the links between food, culture, and community. Over many years of friendship, Yia Vang and David Crabb have seen how food sparks lively conversation and warm community, and now they’re recording these conversations.
Performance Venues & Theaters
Alanna Morris Van Tassel Productions | AMVTP is a Black-led arts organization, launched in 2017 with spheres of influence in dance performance, education, and community-building. AMVTP has been developing and producing provocative and soulful arts programs that center the creative genius of the African Caribbean archive, bringing people together from all walks of life, employing Minnesota artists of color, and building bridges and partnerships with arts organizations that share a similar vision.
Blackout Improv | Blackout Improv is a mix of comedy, social justice, and arts access. We seek to put more Black performers on more stages, to create comedic dialogue around serious truths, and to provide improv access for Black students. Blackout is changing the face of comedy stages in Minnesota.
Black Table Arts | Black Table Arts is a community-driven arts cooperative located in Minneapolis, Minnesota gathering black communities through the arts toward better black futures. Complete with a bookstore, shared workspace, and a performance space (BTA) makes bold the connection between art and grassroots organizing by providing programs that invite local artists to see themselves as change-makers and organizers of their collective liberation.
3737 Minnehaha Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55406
Brownbody | Grounded in African diasporic perspectives, Brownbody’s mission to build artistic experiences that disrupt biased narratives and prompt audiences to engage as active participants in the journey. Brownbody accomplishes this through a blend of modern dance, theater, social justice, and figure skating.
Capri Theater | The Capri Theater is owned and operated by Plymouth Christian Youth Center. It is part of the PCYC campus located between West Broadway and 23rd Avenue North along Oliver Avenue. The Capri Theater is operated under PCYC’s Mission and Operating Principles. Our mission is to enrich the skills, prospects, and spirit of North Minneapolis area youth and adults, in partnership with families and communities.
2027 West Broadway, Minneapolis, MN 55411
Carlyle Brown & Company | Carlyle Brown & Company was formed in 2002 around a constellation of culturally and ethnically diverse artists dedicated to the development and performance of his work in an atmosphere of collaborative co-creation. The Company is interested in innovations in dramatic form, rich story-telling, and shaping ideas into theatrical events.
The Cedar Cultural Center | The Cedar’s mission is to promote intercultural appreciation and understanding through the presentation of global music and dance. The Cedar is committed to artistic excellence and integrity, diversity of programming, support for emerging artists, and community outreach.
416 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55454
Dark Muse Performing Arts | Dark Muse Performing Arts is a black woman-owned arts organization established in 2020. Our mission is to unapologetically amplify BIPOC & Queer voices and heal through bold storytelling.
Maia Maiden Productions | Twin Cities-based performing arts presenter. Our foundation is Hip Hop. We look to work with artists who are aligned with our mission and opportunities on and off the stage. In addition, we have created sponsorship, grant, and artist exchange initiatives to broaden our scope of impact in Minnesota, nationally, and around the world.
New Dawn Theatre Company | NEW DAWN Theatre draws brilliance out of shadows by illuminating & supporting cutting-edge works of overlooked, under-represented communities of our theatrical landscape through innovative, exciting & excellent theater productions.
2500 Crosby Farm Road, #11, Saint Paul, MN 55116
Penumbra Theatre | Penumbra Theatre creates professional productions that are artistically excellent, thought-provoking, and relevant and illuminates the human condition through the prism of the African American experience.
Martin Luther King Recreation Center: 270 N Kent St, St Paul, MN 55102
Pillsbury House & Theatre | Pillsbury House Theatre’s mission is to create challenging theatre that inspires enduring change towards a just society. Through the Mainstage season and other community engagement programs, Pillsbury House Theatre (PHT) illuminates the differences that make each person unique and the similarities that bring people together, within an artistic environment that promotes understanding and leads to positive action.
3501 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Rare Productions | RARE Productions is an arts and entertainment media production company. We promote, produce, and co-create opportunities and events utilizing innovative artistic methods and strategies. Formed by Rochelle A James & Roxanne E Anderson to meet the basic booking and visibility needs of local LGBTQ people of color artists.
3010 E Lake Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408
Tru Roots | Tru Ruts Endeavors is a multi-disciplinary artistic entity ranging from a record label, theatre productions, a radio series, visual art exhibits, and film productions. It has been a major innovator and trailblazer in the Twin Cities often producing shows to sold-out audiences and critical acclaim.
Underdog Theatre | Underdog Theatre is a new company that creates art for the underserved, underrepresented, and unheard.
Artist Galleries & Community Spaces
American Indian Family Center | American Indian Family Center (AIFC) serves approximately 700 American Indian families each year with mental health, recovery, employment, housing, family, and youth services. They are a community gathering space for the American Indian community in St. Paul and the East Metro and are growing to serve more families!
579 Wells Street, St. Paul, MN 55130
ARTS-Us | ARTS-Us is a community-based 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1992 by a group of African American artists and multicultural educators. Using the experiences of the African Diaspora at its core and collaborating with artists, educators, and communities of other backgrounds and cultures, ARTS-Us offers “edutainment” programs to schools, business, and community environments.
1221 Marshall Avenue, Saint Paul, MN, 55104
Catalyst Arts | Catalyst Arts places a particular emphasis on increasing the visibility of and providing a platform for artists whose voices have historically been underrepresented in the arts, including (but not limited to): artists of color, LGBTQIA+ artists, immigrants, Indigenous, low-income, and artists exploring non-traditional pathways to success.
Hallie Q. Brown Community Center | Founded in 1929, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center is an African American, nonprofit social service agency open to all, primarily serving the Summit-University area of Saint Paul, Minnesota and the broader Twin Cities metro area. The organization was born as the result of the vision, commitment, and tireless efforts of several community leaders in the 1920s.
270 North Kent Street, St Paul, MN 55102
Heart and Soul Drum Academy | Heart and Soul Drum Academy builds bridges across communities connecting youth with the art of drumming while cultivating personal development, discipline, leadership & teamwork with respect for self & others that transfers into the classroom, community, and the world. Heart and Soul Drum Academy is an educational non-profit organization in the Rondo Community of St Paul, Minnesota offering Djembe hand drum classes to youth ages 3-17.
1360 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104
In Black Ink | In Black Ink is a publishing arts initiative that provides opportunities for communities that have been disenfranchised historically, and continues to be present. IBI’s cultural literacy programming mitigates the damage of economic, educational, and cultural inequities that are the result of past and current prejudice and discrimination.
938 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104
Indigenous Roots | Indigenous Roots Cultural Center is a collective of artists and organizations dedicated to building, supporting, and cultivating opportunities for Indigenous peoples and communities of color through cultural arts and activism. This community-based multidisciplinary, multigenerational, multicultural center for Native-Indigenous/POC communities in Saint Paul uniquely presents the many faces and creative expressions blossoming in the cultural scene of Dayton’s Bluff on the East Side.
788 East 7th Street, St Paul, MN 55106
Juxtaposition Arts | Juxtaposition Arts is a non-profit youth art and design education center, gallery, retail shop, and artists’ studio space in North Minneapolis.
2007 Emerson Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411
The Karen L. Charles Threads Dance Project | Threads Dance Project seeks to be a national organization that betters humanity through dance, education, and outreach by creating dances that touch on themes of human connectedness, promoting dialogue, understanding, and acceptance of all individuals, and celebrating the human spirit through dance performance, arts education, and community-building.
2213 Snelling Avenue, Ste. #100, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Million Artist Movement | Million Artist Movement is a collective of Black-Brown-and-Radical Artist Revolutionaries and Activists. MAM is a global vision and movement that believes in the role of art in the campaign to dismantle oppressive racist systems against Black, Brown, Indigenous, and disenfranchised peoples.
Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery | The Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery (MAAHMG) preserves, records, and celebrates the history, art, and culture of Blacks in Minnesota through exhibitions, programs, and community events.
1256 Penn Avenue N. Fourth Floor, Minneapolis, MN 55411
Mosaic on a Stick | Mosaic on a Stick is a Black, Indigenous, and woman-owned business. They work to put accessibility to art and creative expression at the center of their values. Mosaic on a Stick is a community art space created to promote mosaic art by selling quality supplies, teaching mosaic classes, and creating public, private, and commercial commissions.
1564 Lafond Avenue, St Paul, MN 55104
The Somali Museum of Minnesota | Founded in 2011, The Somali Museum of Minnesota opened the doors of its public gallery in 2013 as North America’s first and only museum devoted to Somali culture. At last update, The Somali Museum of Minnesota was the only museum of Somali culture anywhere in the world. It is the home of Somali creativity in North America and is a global leader in advancing and elevating the work of Somali artists, traditional and contemporary.
1516 East Lake St. Suite 011, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Soomaal House of Art | Soomaal House of Art (Soomaal) is a Minnesota-based Somali art collective that provides studio space, studio critiques, artistic community, mentorships for younger Somali artists, and annual exhibition space with educational programming.
2200 Minnehaha Avenue, #200, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
Tres Leches Art Gallery | Artist owned and operated, Tres Leches Art Gallery is home to 13 extraordinary Artists, people that dedicate themselves to the Arts, and to making our world a more beautiful and kind place to be.
1500 Jackson Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Tru Art Speaks | Tru Art Speaks believes in Hip Hop as an educational and social justice tool. Finding its roots in the heart of oppressed communities, Hip Hop, universal culture is comprised of traditions, art, artifacts, and practices that will define the resistance of global generations for years to come.
TU Dance | Founded in 2004 by Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands in Saint Paul, Minnesota, TU Dance is a leading voice for contemporary dance. The 10-member, professional company is acclaimed for its diverse and versatile artists, performing work that draws together modern dance, classical ballet, African-based and urban vernacular movements.
2121 University Avenue West, Saint Paul, MN 55114
Victoria Theater Art Center | Victoria Theater Art Center envisions a vibrant neighborhood where the arts welcome, heal, transform and build power for the people of Frogtown and Rondo. The vision for the future of the Victoria Theater Arts Center is captured through authentic community engagement.
825 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104
VOICE of Culture | VOICE of Culture is a Black family sharing and creating West African rhythms and movements with a Black American twist. Since 2008, VOICE of Culture has provided culturally-based engagement to the community. The people in VOICE of Culture are cultural artists practicing skills that promote mental health and physical wellbeing as we honor the art and traditions of our ancestors.
2100 Emerson Ave North, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55411
Walker West | Walker West creates a music learning community rooted in the African-American cultural experience, where people of all ages and backgrounds can gather, explore, and grow through music. Walker West provides exceptional, affordable music education and enrichment rooted in the African-American cultural experience.
760 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55104
Yo Mama’s House | Yo Mama’s House is an art and healing space cooperative for mothers of all ages. “We MOTHER by sharing personal narratives and ancestral stories that hold our mothers’ cultural wisdom, and by teaching each other traditional “woman’s work” skills to younger mothers. We MENTOR (and are mentored) by local artists, healers, and activists who teach diverse artistic practices, non-traditional trade, and business skills. We MAKE art and create healing services and that promote positive images and narratives about women as mothers and also promote health and well-being.”
Nightclubs & Dance Venues
Aunties Venue | The Exchange & Alibi Lounge bring Minneapolis entertainment to a higher caliber. Dance the night away or reserve a table for the ultimate night out. Our resident and premier DJs are sure to amp up your weekend, leaving you with a nightlife experience unlike any other.
The Exchange & Alibi Lounge | The Exchange & Alibi Lounge bring Minneapolis entertainment to a higher caliber. Dance the night away or reserve a table for the ultimate night out. Our resident and premier DJs are sure to amp up your weekend, leaving you with a nightlife experience unlike any other.
10 South 5th Street # B100, Minneapolis, MN 55402
The Gold Room | Restaurant and Lounge, serving scratch-made comfort food. Amazing VIP Bottle Service experience! The hottest spot in downtown Minneapolis on the weekends.
528 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408
Monarch Minneapolis | Monarch MPLS is a boutique, posh nightclub located in the heart of the Warehouse District in Minneapolis. Monarch MPLS is the perfect venue to celebrate any occasion, or just for a night out on the town.
322 North 1st Avenue, Minneapolis, MN, 55401
Palmer’s Bar | At Palmer’s, you’ll always find a familiar face, an interesting conversation, and the best drink values in the Twin Cities. We host karaoke on Mondays, a free-form Hippenanny every Wednesday around 5, and a variety of live music every other night of the week.
500 Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55454
Pimento Kitchen | Pimento has been featured on “Andrew Zimmern’s Bucket List” on the Travel Channel as well as “I Heart Food” on Food Network. Pimento Jamaican Kitchen offers authentic Jamaican street and comfort food using family recipes, fresh ingredients, and love. Pimento also transforms into a nightclub on the weekend. Follow Pimento Kitchen on social media for more information.
2524 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404
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