Little Box Sauna was commissioned as part of Creative Placemaking in the South Loop, an initiative of Bloomington Theatre and Art Center and the City of Bloomington, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Creative Placemaking in the South Loop Demonstration Project poses a unique set of challenges both in terms of the history of the location and also the communities that frequent the area. The South Loop is ripe with potential as an intersection of several industries, wildlife, and transportation hubs, and we are energized by the dynamism of these micro-ecologies and connecting to a variety of stakeholders. Our goal is to create an inventive and inclusive work that will not only draw together community members, but also be so compelling that first-time visitors will make return visits, generating an influx of energy and resources for creatively developing the South Loop.
Creative Placemaking is an emerging field that works to build vibrant, distinctive, and sustainable communities through the arts. It engages artists and others in building social fabric and local economies while making physical, place-based improvements, leveraging the distinctive character and creative and cultural resources of each place.
The South Loop is a developing Bloomington neighborhood that is home to the Mall of America, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, 13 hotels, four light rail transit stations, an existing residential area, and significant new development opportunities. The City of Bloomington has adopted a long-range plan to transform the South Loop into a densely-populated, walkable urban neighborhood that attracts residents, workers, hotel guests, and shoppers through its unique character and assets.
Creative Placemaking in the South Loop is a project of BTAC and the City of Bloomington. The first 18 months of the project are funded by an “Our Town” matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Grant outcomes include the development of a long-term creative placemaking plan for the South Loop and a series of demonstration projects. The latter may range from temporary or permanent installations (e.g., sculpture, murals, etc.) to single events in outdoor spaces to social engagement events spread over time, and they will engage leading artists and urban designers from our region. BTAC and the City are grateful to project partners, including the Mall of America, McGough, Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau, and others. The project is managed by a team of artists and planners with Creative Community Builders.
- A new City development paradigm that integrates art and arts experiences into the design of public spaces and infrastructure (streets, sidewalks, utilities, parks) and private improvements (buildings, signs, parking areas).
- Growth of BTAC’s capacity to engage larger and more diverse audiences and to incorporate new disciplines (e.g., public art) into our programming.
- A replicable model for using creative placemaking in a suburban context.Most creative placemaking efforts take place in denser, older, urban neighborhoods or downtowns. Through this project, we can demonstrate how creative placemaking works when “starting from scratch” in the suburbs.
- A more livable, vibrant, and beautiful community for the South Loop’s current residents, workers, and visitors, and the larger populations projected in the coming decades.
See the BTAC’s page on Creative Placemaking for the city of Bloomington. LINK