Cultural STAR 2023 announcement

Saint Paul Awards Nearly $1.3 Million in Funding to 66 Arts and Cultural Organizations

The Saint Paul City Council has approved $1,294,853 in Cultural Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) grants to support programming, capital improvements, and organizational development activities for 66 local nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.

A mayoral-appointed board of up to nine members of the Saint Paul arts community reviewed all applications and made funding recommendations to the Mayor and City Council prior to approval at the November 15, 2023, council meeting.

“This was one of our most competitive rounds in years, with over $3 million requested and only $1.3 million of funds available,” said Bethany Gladhill, Business Director for FilmNorth and the Vice-Chair of the Cultural STAR board. “The applications were incredibly diverse, highlighting our city’s rich cultural life.”

"Empowering our vibrant arts scene through targeted support ensures our community remains a hub of creativity, expression, and cultural vibrancy,” said Mayor Carter. “The Cultural STAR grants signify our commitment to nurturing local talent and fostering the growth of our diverse artistic community."

For more than 25 years, the Cultural STAR program has used a portion of a half-cent sales tax to strengthen the City of Saint Paul’s arts and cultural sector and support downtown as a vital cultural destination. This funding was authorized by the Minnesota State Legislature in May 1993. In 1994, the Saint Paul City Council officially established the Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) program, which includes support for both Cultural STAR and Neighborhood STAR, which provides competitive funding for capital projects in Saint Paul neighborhoods.

“The Cultural STAR program is a vital resource to increase the vibrancy of our community,” said Jimmy Loyd, the city’s economic development director. “These grant funds support and grow our local arts and cultural organizations while also creating new opportunities for residents and visitors to explore and enjoy the diversity and vitality of Saint Paul.”

The most recent funding round will help support events such as Rondo Night at the Winter Carnival, mobile mini concerts from the Bach Society of Minnesota, the Transforming Generations Pride BBQ Festival, the Flint Hills Family Festival, the Lowertown Sounds music series, the Minnesota Qeej and Hmong Arts Festival, and the COMPAS Emerging Young Artists Juried Student Show, all in downtown Saint Paul.

“This Cultural STAR award will help us share with both Hmong and non-Hmong attendees the only annual festival in the United States celebrating the Qeej instrument and teach about its important role in Hmong culture, as well as other traditional and contemporary Hmong arts forms,” said Txongpao Lee, Executive Director of the Hmong Cultural Center. “The Qeej and Hmong Arts Festival takes our cross-cultural educational mission to another level by showcasing the instrument and other Hmong arts forms in a daylong festival open to people of all walks of life in the heart of Saint Paul's downtown Cultural District.”

“COMPAS is honored to receive a Cultural STAR award for its Emerging Young Artist program,” said Dawne Brown White, COMPAS Executive Director. “This grant will expand our ability to recognize, celebrate, and develop the skills of young visual artists in the Saint Paul metro region. Research has repeatedly shown that when children and teens participate in the arts, they experience improved problem-solving and critical thinking skills and enhanced self-esteem and academic achievement. With the support of the Cultural STAR program, COMPAS will provide an opportunity for emerging young artists to showcase their work in a downtown Saint Paul gallery for the world to see. We believe this will ultimately improve the success and well-being of the next generation of Saint Paul’s creators.”

Elsewhere in the city, Cultural STAR will help fund the African American Railway Workers Exhibit at the Minnesota Transportation Museum (Ward 1), a production at the Six Points Theater (Ward 3), the Ballet Minnesota Dance Festival (Ward 4), the Marydale Festival (Ward 5), new digital access to materials from the East Side Freedom Library (Ward 6), and the expansion of a mural project along the Intertribal Cultural Corridor by Indigenous Roots (Ward 7).

“Though we can’t fund everything, Saint Paulites certainly can get out and experience it, so please head out to hear music in the park or view public art or buy tickets to some of the amazing shows being produced here,” said Gladhill. “Cultural STAR funding is just one way we can show how important the arts are to our city.”

2023 Cultural STAR recipients

  • (Neo)Muralismos de México
  • 113
  • African Economic Development Solutions
  • Ananya Dance Theatre
  • Art from the Inside
  • Asian Economic Development Association
  • Bach Society of Minnesota
  • Ballet Minnesota
  • Cantus
  • Chinese American Association of Minnesota Chinese Dance Theater
  • CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio)
  • COLLIDE Theatrical Dance Company
  • Como Community Council
  • Compassionate Action for Animals
  • Consortium Carissimi
  • Creative Enterprise Zone
  • District 6 Planning Council
  • East Side Freedom Library
  • Face to Face Health & Counseling Services
  • FilmNorth
  • Full Circle Theater Company
  • Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies
  • Historic Saint Paul Corporation
  • Hmong Cultural Center of Minnesota
  • Illusion Theater and School, Inc.
  • In Progress
  • Indian Music Society of Minnesota
  • Indigenous Roots
  • Irish Fair of Minnesota
  • Lower Phalen Creek Project (Wakan Tipi Awanyankapi)
  • Minnesota Hard Bop Collective
  • Minnesota Museum of American Art
  • Minnesota Public Radio
  • Minnesota Transportation Museum
  • Minnesota Vietnamese Language School
  • Mizna
  • One Voice Mixed Chorus
  • Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
  • Penumbra Theatre
  • Ragamala Dance Company
  • Rhythmically Speaking
  • Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation
  • Six Points Theater
  • Sounds of Hope, Ltd.
  • Springboard for the Arts
  • TaikoArts Midwest
  • Ten Thousand Things
  • The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library
  • The Great Northern Winter Festival
  • The Saint Paul Conservatory of Music
  • The Schubert Club
  • Theater Mu
  • Tlalnepantla Arts
  • Transforming Generations
  • TU Dance
  • Twin Cities Iranian Culture Collective
  • Twin Cities Jazz Festival
  • Twin Cities Metro IBA
  • Twin Cities PBS
  • Victoria Theater Arts Center
  • Wonderlust Productions
  • Young Dance, Inc.
  • ZTP

Last Edited: November 17, 2023