Turning 25 is a good thing for Franconia Sculpture Park. The anniversary of the 43-acre free outdoor art space near Taylors Falls marks a new phase in his life.
Franconia found themselves with a curious advantage last year. As other arts organizations closed due to the pandemic, it was able to stay open every day from sunrise to sunset. Guests could easily distance themselves socially while wandering among the property’s tall sculptures. Last year, in March alone, attendance at Franconia tripled. It welcomed 180,000 visitors over the year, a new record.
This success came after a rough patch with the sacking of co-founder John Hock. Executive Director Ginger Porcella joined at the end of 2019, just months before the pandemic took hold.
This year, 40 new installations will arrive at the park, along with programming aimed at combating racial injustice. The emphasis is less on large sculptures, with a shift towards performance and video.
The strategy is to capture as much imagination as possible of the large base of people that Franconia attracts. Porcella notes that visitors have varied political backgrounds and backgrounds and come from both rural and urban areas.
“We welcome immigrants and families of color and we get white supremacists all in one space,” she says. “I feel like it’s a real opportunity and an obligation to be able to face what is happening in our community and our world more than ever.”
For example, the park planned a festival dealing with healing and resilience as a path to social change, timed for the summer solstice, which landed almost the same day as Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the emancipation of slaves. in the USA. Eighty percent of the participating artists Franconia has worked with are black.
“Our theme this year is authority, visibility and public space. Being able to showcase and amplify the voices of diverse artists is a real priority,” said Porcella.