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NEWS: The Hennepin Theatre Trust’s It’s the People 2022

The Pantages Theatre, one of three historic theatres managed by the Hennepin Theatre Trust in Minneapolis, MN.

Have you enjoyed a Broadway touring musical in Minneapolis? A comedy show at the State Theatre? Jazz at the Pantages? Each of those took place in historic theatre buildings that have been preserved, restored, managed, and maintained by the Hennepin Theatre Trust. More than just a landlord, the Trust has become a major driver in not just remaking the Hennepin Theatre District, but also shaping the larger Downtown Improvement District into a better place to be.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic and other events of the last two and a half years have changed where people spend their time. For residents, restaurants, and more, bringing visitors back to downtown Minneapolis is crucially important to the neighborhoods. This makes the Trust’s ongoing innovations to entertain and welcome (or welcome back) all visitors and residents of great importance.

Supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, UBS Wealth Management USA, and Clear Channel Outdoor, HTT recently launched the latest edition of It’s the People, an outdoor and outsized public art installation of giant original photographic portraits. The portraits are displayed on billboards around the Hennepin Theatre District and on large-scale banners draping the sides of seven buildings.

2022 marks the fourth consecutive year of this large-scale outdoor art installation. “We are excited about what It’s the People brings to the Hennepin Theatre District, which is one of Minneapolis’ most historic and vibrant neighborhoods,” said Mark Nerenhausen, president, and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust.

As noted by the Trust,

It’s the People showcases exceptional, everyday Minnesotans who illustrate the heart and soul of our state by featuring their large scale portraits on buildings along Hennepin Avenue.

Portraits for this year include Hennepin Theatre Trust founding members, arts leaders creating programming with youth experiencing homelessness, concert venue staff, indigenous restauranteurs, student artists, queer leaders, and an independent journalist.

It’s the People also supports Minnesota photographers ranging from emerging to well-established… [providing] an inclusive platform to uplift talented Minnesota artists who represent our state in all its diversity.

As a public art program, It’s the People elevates both artists and subjects through a collaborative process to tell stories and engage the viewer in better understanding the complexity and richness of our community.

The ‘Gala’ unveiling of It’s the People 2022 fittingly took place in the Hennepin Event Center at 900 Hennepin Avenue. This former restaurant is yet another building maintained by HTT, re-purposed as an event facility and virtual Hennepin Theatre District history museum, filled with collected historical district theatre memorabilia. (It also hosts theatre/dance classes and, sometimes, rehearsals for touring shows.)

As Ari Koehnen-Sweeny (Director of Creative Art Partnerships for the Hennepin Theatre Trust) noted, the curving path traced by Hennepin Avenue today ran from Bde Maka Ska to the Mississippi River, and was first a Dakota trail. She noted that many Dakota folk tales were doubtless told along this trail, placing the live performances that today fill the buildings of the Hennepin Theatre Trust in a living history and lineage of storytelling.

When next in Downtown Minneapolis, be sure to take a bit of extra time outside to check out It’s the People and appreciate how art makes the district flourish, creating a better place to visit and live.