Northern Spark 2022: What the World Needs Now

Northern Spark 2022: What the World Needs Now

The 11th annual Northern Spark festival lights up St. Paul with soul-fueling art and community all-night on June 11.

Northern announces the all-night, in-person participatory Northern Spark art festival this summer exploring the theme, “What the World Needs Now.” This year’s festival will take place along University Avenue and downtown in St. Paul, MN on Saturday, June 11, 2022 from 9 pm – 2 am. A Closing Event will follow from 2 am – 5:30 am on Raspberry Island in downtown St. Paul along the Mississippi River.

Northern Spark will return to the Rondo, Frogtown and Little Mekong neighborhoods near University Avenue and downtown in St. Paul, as well as the Mississippi River to shine a spotlight on the beauty and richness of these communities.

Art projects will take many forms, including performance, hands-on and participatory art-making, and sound and sculpture installation, all responding to the theme, “What the World Needs Now.” This year’s activities will include art projects at Victoria Theater Arts Center, Springboard for the Arts, Rondo Community Library, and the Minnesota Museum of American Art, building upon ongoing partnerships with these organizations.

The Theme: What the World Needs Now

The festival theme, “What the World Needs Now,” was created by the 2022 Artist Council with Northern

Artists are truth tellers, dreamers, seekers of imagination. Between the ever-present uncertainty of our times and the impossible tangibility of the future, we wonder: What does the world need now? 

Some may already be singing, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” These lyrics ring true as an anthem for our times. We all need love, but perhaps your answer to this statement is, poetry projected on every building, clean water for all who inhabit this earth, a sing-a-long in a local park, or endless bubbles shining iridescent in the sun. One thing is for certain: we know we will always need art to fuel our souls.

Returning to the one-night, all-night festival

In 2022, Northern Spark returns to the structure of its roots — a one-night, dusk to dawn festival, bringing back the beloved Northern Spark experience of greeting the dawn together, outdoors, after a night of connecting through transformative art experiences.  

As our cities still grapple with the effects of COVID-19, 2022 festival curators leaned into our uncertain times to support artist projects that encourage our communities to safely connect while inspiring the kind of experimental, surprising experiences we love about Northern Spark.

We are excited to announce these artists and partners for Northern Spark 2022: 

  • Eva Adderley
  • Riley Kleve and Ever Woodward
  • Pang Foua Xiong and Sandy Lo 
  • Nick Knutson and Jei Harold-Zamora
  • Alia Jeraj
  • Felicia Cooper, Alex Young and Kallie Melvin
  • Sequoia Hauck, Chitra Vairavan and collaborators
  • Native Youth Arts Collective
  • Grupo Soap del Corazon at The Minnesota Museum of American Art 
  • Frogtown Radio/WFNU, Saint Paul Almanac and SPNN  
  • The 100% Campaign
  • Additional programming to be announced from venue partners Rondo Community Library, Springboard for the Arts and Victoria Theater Arts Center!

More details about the projects and additional artists will be announced in April.

Northern Spark Background

Beginning in 2011, Northern Spark is a late-night, participatory arts festival that lights up the Twin Cities in early summer. From dusk to dawn, the city surprises you: friendly strangers share a moment, glowing cyclists whirl by, unique installations pop-up in neighborhoods, and wanderers participate in experimental performances in green spaces. The glow of sunrise after a night of amazing art experiences leaves you rejuvenated. 

Northern Spark’s locations, times, themes, and forms are always transforming. In 2018, the festival introduced a two-night model, so people could experience the artful magic of a festival for two nights until 2 am. In 2021, the festival took on new forms: art in the mail, online, and in person in St. Paul, MN during two weeks. This year, festival organizers are excited to return to an all-night time frame with a modified schedule. 

Northern Spark is produced by Northern, a Twin Cities non-profit arts organization whose work ranges from large-scale public art platforms like Northern Spark to Art(ists) On the Verge, a year long mentorship program for 4 emerging artists working in public space. Northern supports artists in the creation and presentation of art in the public sphere, such as at St. Paul's Union Depot (Amateur Intelligence Radio), "choir karaoke" at the Minnesota State Fair (Giant Sing Along) and Illuminate South Loop, a mini outdoor festival of nine interactive projects in Bloomington, MN’s South Loop in the days leading up to the 2018 Super Bowl. Through projects such as Aquanesia, a location-­based environmental mystery game, and large scale festivals themed around social issues, Northern helps audiences explore expanded possibilities for civic engagement through art.

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