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Press Release 03/02/16

For Immediate Release: 03/02/16

Press Contact: Nickey Robare



Northern Spark to focus on Climate Change

Climate Chaos | Climate Rising chosen as theme for 2016 & 2017 festivals


MINNEAPOLIS: Northern, the Minnesota-based arts organization that produces the wildly popular annual all-night art festival Northern Spark, has announced that its 2016 and 2017 festivals will focus on Earth’s changing environment through the theme Climate Chaos | Climate Rising, exploring how artists grapple with and envision new approaches to the global climate challenges we face.

Northern Spark 2016 will take place on June 11 in Minneapolis from sunset to sunrise. At dusk the festival will open at the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza with the unveiling of the newest winner of the Creative City Challenge, Wolf and Moose by Christopher Lutter, Heid Erdrich, Kim Ford, Karl Stoerzinger, Coal Dorius and Missy Adzick, two interactive, spectacle-scale animal sculptures of a wolf and moose. The festival will continue all night long in the Minneapolis Mill District as artists explore the effects of climate change through five concepts—Move, Nourish, Interconnect, Perceive, Act. Audiences will experience giant video projections alongside performances and installations in the streets, in green spaces, and under bridges along the waterfront.

Highlights of Northern Spark 2016 include:

  • An opening concert in the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza.
  • A pre-festival Launch Party from 7-9 PM in the Mill Ruins Courtyard with music, food, and drink.
  • A track of inspiring night-time talks and workshops presented by climate scientists, researchers, visionary engineers, political activists, and artists
  • Audiences will be able to gather in a specially commissioned “chill” conversation space constructed out of ice harvested from Minnesota lakes this winter and stored passively throughout the spring.
  • Census, an outdoor choreographed event of 100 dancers from varied performance backgrounds, beginning at dusk and continuing nonstop until sunrise.
  • Sumunar Gamelan presents an Indonesian wayang, an all-night shadow puppet show, music and dance performance that weaves together traditional storytelling with commentary on current climate issues.
  • Local food trucks will offer snacks and drinks throughout the night.

Climate Chaos | Climate Rising explores the interconnected, evolving, long-term consequences of climate change. The science of climate change is complex, and Northern Spark will give the public creative new ways to explore the issue, challenging us to think about and act upon what it means to be fully aware in a time of global interconnection. Artists’ voices and visions will have a platform to help turn a sense of overwhelmment into concrete actions anchored in a realistic and hopeful map for the future.

Northern Spark founder Steve Dietz speaks to the importance of using art to discuss climate change, “People need facts to make informed decisions, but it’s stories and culture that change people’s minds—and behavior. Artists create connection points to issues that may seem tired or impossibly contentious. We follow them in through beauty, wonder, and curiosity and quickly find ourselves engaged in a complex issue seen differently.”

Climate Chaos | Climate Rising will continue to guide programming for the year between the festivals and will culminate in the biggest, boldest, most exciting Northern Spark yet. Thanks to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge, on June 10, 2017 Northern Spark will spread across the Twin Cities, expanding to include both Saint Paul and Minneapolis for the first time since 2011.

Installations, projections and performances responding to climate change will span the Green Line transit corridor from Lowertown Saint Paul to downtown Minneapolis. From sunset to sunrise, artist-led and community-driven projects will flourish in neighborhoods along the Green Line. Many of these projects will mark the culmination of 18 months of community-hosted artist residencies and participatory public project collaborations.

About Northern Spark: On the second Saturday of each June, this free annual dusk-to-dawn, multidisciplinary arts festival draws tens of thousands of Minnesotans each year to interact with giant outdoor projections, temporary installations and performances by local and national artists.

For more information on the festival, visit

For more information on the theme Climate Chaos | Climate Rising, visit

Northern Spark by the numbers, 2011-2015:

  • 494 artist projects in 117 venues
  • 188,000 attendees
  • Over 1,391 local and national artists and performers
  • 230 cultural organization partners
  • 388,248 website visits by 268,480 unique visitors

About Northern

Northern Spark is presented by Northern, a nonprofit arts organization whose vision is to transform our sense of what’s possible in public space.

Northern Spark is one night, but Northern shines throughout the year with projects that encourage public participation and artistic innovation, from the Giant-Sing-Along at the Minnesota State Fair to a permanent storytelling platform at Union Depot, to our annual year-long, intensive, mentor-based fellowship for emerging artists, Art(ists) on the Verge.

For more information visit