Theresa Sweetland

From the Director

Deepening Our Commitment to Be Part of the Change

This week we watched, with the world, as white supremacists committed acts of violence, meant to overthrow a legitimate outcome of a democratic election. In the words of the ACLU, “These aren’t protests – we know protests. We shudder to think how police would have responded had Black and Brown people stormed a government building.” Well, here in Minneapolis/St. Paul where Forecast is based, we also know violence and we also know protest, and we know the violence that Black and Brown and indigenous people are met with when they fight for their lives and rights.

As a parent, I tell my children when they witness violence that they can imagine a new and better world and commit to that change. The most beautiful thing about working in the arts is that I am always surrounded by people whose actual job it is to imagine the unimaginable to enact positive change. We need artists now, more than ever. As an artist, the act of creation is a constant and evolving reimagining and it is that radical imagining that will bring about justice and rediscover joy.

As Forecast looks ahead at this new year, we deepen our commitment to being a part of the change and to anti-racism and justice. We commit to being a part of bringing about hope and democratic ideals. Our team is growing and changing, our programs expanding and our impact deepening. 

We welcome a new full time staff member, Jacque Liu, working remotely from Philadelphia, but focusing on work around the country. We celebrate Jen Dolen, long-time staff member, as she enters a new position as Content and Communications Manager, and we look forward to a deeper relationship with Mallory Rukhsana Nezam as she expands her role with us as the brand new Curator of Partnerships & Programming for FORWARD. And we thank Karen Olson, Editor-in-Chief for Public Art Review, for nine years of incredible stewardship of the world’s public art stories and for her leadership and creativity in launching our new publication FORWARD and paving the way for more voices and perspectives to shine through. 

We celebrate the artists who are reimagining public art every day, in communities, neighborhoods, parks and public spaces. The Minnesota artists announced today as our new round of grantees, despite the challenges in the world around us, are driven by a better world, and I can’t wait to experience what they show us. And whether it is supporting a public artist directly to realize their own dreams or helping others find, hire and support public artists, our team of consultants brings unique skills that can quickly and authentically connect artists to the greatest challenges facing communities, advancing justice, health and human dignity across the country and the world.

And finally, we deepen our own commitment to disrupt the status quo of public art, ensuring more equitable practices, policies and programs in Minnesota and around the country. And others are joining in the cause. We asked and you answered. Today, we announce a game-changing anonymous gift of $25,000 that, along with all of our appreciated year-end donations, has allowed us to officially launch our Change Lab and hire our first Change Lab Research Fellow, focusing on racial justice in public art , with more fellowships to be announced throughout 2021. 

These changes are just part of a new beginning. I’m so proud to enter into 2021 with the people that I call friends, colleagues, mentors, and collaborators. We are not just a group of people who work together, we are bonded by a mission, a deep drive to see positive change in people’s everyday lives. Like so many in this country, we also seek hope, crave connection and need joy; it is our mission to help ensure that the arts provide that light in these times of great uncertainty. 

 Today and over the coming weeks, we will be introducing and reintroducing you to the team at Forecast, our dedicated staff, our creative consultants, our committed board and our game changing supporters, each with their own role and vision to share for our future.

We are here with you for the collective reimagining

Theresa's signature

Theresa Sweetland
Executive Director, Forecast Public Art
Publisher, FORWARD