Founder’s Statement

I founded this organization in 1998 because art has been my sanctuary and sanctuary must be shared; and because arts excellence rises out of the inner city, and ought to cycle through it. We need our artists, thinkers, prophets, and seers. Their presence among us heals—like using our own blood for a transfusion of wisdom and hope. To create a sanctuary for art, we use the best business we can put into practice—and then, with help from partners, funders, and friends, seek to improve every year.

Board and staff members have worked hard for twelve years to create a learning culture adequate to support the mission. We present, produce, commission, create, and teach artistic excellence. We hustle to pay for it. The art must be life-giving, not comfortable and happy-happy, but enriching to a community long hobbled by scarcity and injustice. As our development officer says, these are goals that, if we cannot strictly measure, we must surely measure up to. So the criteria for excellence includes access: Does our presentation of excellent art help to unite groups? Does it deepen literacy? Can it transform individuals?

Yes. A former North Star tells recruits that without Art Sanctuary she would not have gone to college. A writer quits her day job to pursue her MFA after teaching our community workshop, then becomes a college Creative Writing instructor. Composer Hannibal Lokumbe finds that his small commission from Art Sanctuary becomes an artistic turning point in his celebrated composition career. Thousands more lives have been transformed.

Our work now is to keep advancing: with a new building, stronger infrastructure, and new technologies. For excellence in the arts. In the community. For real.

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