CEZ forges ahead with mural festival, other initiatives

By Kathy Henderson

If you wonder if there will be a Chroma Zone Mural & Art Festival this year, mark your calendar: It’s coming Sept. 14 to 16.

Planning meetings are underway for this year’s festival, said Creative Enterprise Zone Executive Director Angela Casselton, who expects the 2023 festival schedule will include the always popular artist talks, music and mural bus tours. New this year will be bike tours.

If you want a sneak preview, CEZ mural bus tours will be leaving on the hour during the St. Anthony Park Art Festival June 3.

Initially, there was some question if the CEZ could stage another mural festival because funding was lagging.

But festival sponsors more recently have been diligent in contributing funds, Casselton reported. She noted that in early March funding had reached 70 % of the anticipated money needed.

Casselton said the challenge this year was that the financing for the 2023 festival no longer included grant support from the Knight Foundation. It is with tremendous gratitude, she emphasized, that the foundation’s three-year grant helped jumpstart the festival in 2019.

The foundation extended the grant one additional year since the 2020 festival was cancelled due to Covid 19.

If you wonder who the mural artists will be in 2023 — ah, well, that answer will have to wait for the CEZ’s official announcement on artists and mural locations. What we can tell you is that CEZ’s goal is to support eight new murals, and the artists usually begin painting in May.

If you are wondering who selects what will be painted, that decision is left up to the artist. Of course, you can expect that content is family friendly — inclusive, welcoming, supportive, uplifting.

If you are wondering how you can help support the festival, donations to the Creative Enterprise Zone nonprofit (a 501c3 organization) can be mailed to Creative Enterprise Zone, P.O. Box 14252, St. Paul, MN 55114 or made online via a donation link at creativeenterprisezone.org/support

If you are wondering how CEZ is doing at its new location — 2171 University Ave. W., a former Sunrise Banks branch building — Casselton reports the St. Anthony Park Council recently opened an office there, adding to suites occupied by CEZ, Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota and Northcountry Cooperative Foundation.

Thanks to donations that enabled the purchase, the building not only makes CEZ more visible, but it also supports the role of CEZ’s Real Estate program and its plans to create a Real Estate Investment Cooperative.

And, finally, if you are wondering about CEZ’s 100 Trees Initiative, Casselton said the commitment — from Bailey Nurseries tree donations to volunteer recruitment for the Watering Wednesdays (mobile tree watering project) — remains strong.

The CEZ is “learning as we go,” Casselton said, and their 2023 endeavors “will be built on lessons learned during the 2022 season, on what tree species and soil conditions do well and which do not.”

Volunteer recruitment for its spring and fall community tree planting days will soon be underway.

Kathy Henderson lives in St. Paul and is a Twin Cities freelance writer.

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