“There are more people attending museums and art events in Minnesota than the combined attendance of all the professional sports teams put together,” says David Harris, Executive Director of Rimon, citing the Minnesota State Art Board study. “We want to bring the arts into everyone’s life.” Rimon has been doing just that since 1995. Started as an initiative to connect Jews to their identity through arts and culture, Rimon puts on art events and salons, provides funding for local artists, and seeks to lower the barrier for Jews to participate in the vibrant, cultural scene in Minnesota.
“First, we had to build trust with the Jewish artists. We sent the message that we represent all Jewish artists, not just artists making Judaica,” Harris says. As local Jewish artists saw Rimon support programming that featured all types of media and artists, they realized that this was an organization that was truly representing Jewish identity in all its facets.
We wear many hats every day and we’re comfortable wearing those hats. We’re proud of being Jewish and opening ourselves up to other communities so we can build something better together for everyone.
Fast forward to 2003 when funding for the arts was being decimated. Rimon decided to create a fund to support artists in their highest time of need. “Everyone thought we would fail,” Harris recounts, “but in fact, we created the Rimon Arts Fund from which we’ve been giving significant project support for years.” People underestimated the strength and breadth of the Minnesota arts community, the support of the public, and the amazing number of Jewish artists practicing in the state. Twice a year, there is a request for proposals where artists and arts collaborators can seek funding, with the next RFP due on September 4.
Project support grants have funded the work of Jewish artists touching on topics that we all feel in our core, as Minnesotans and Jews living in a changing, multicultural society. Harris has noticed a trend among Jewish artists—many are creating work that builds bridges between spiritual and cultural communities. “It’s work that expresses what it means to be a contemporary Jew. We wear many hats every day and we’re comfortable wearing those hats,” Harris asserts. “We’re proud of being Jewish and opening ourselves up to other communities so we can build something better together for everyone.”
Today, Rimon offers programming that allows anyone, artist or appreciator, to connect to the arts. Look for their artist salon series in the fall or get involved this summer in their arts workshops that explore art, nature, Judaism and a sense of place. The next workshop, “The Mysteries of the Mississippi,” is July 29 at the Mill City Museum. Bring your cell phone and your creativity to capture the river with a historical preservationist as a guide to the riverfront. The last workshop, “Skin and Bones and Everything in Between” on August 5 looks at the stories our bodies tell us about ourselves. A chance to talk about all our health issues, finally! I kid (sort of). But, if you’re Jewish and Minnesotan, these are for you.
“We’re lifting the veil on the arts,” Harris says of Rimon’s work to support Jewish artists and bring culture into everyone’s life.
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