Black Table Arts Cooperative prepares to open Longfellow space

The Black Arts Cooperative in Longfellow will open next Thursday.

A week from Thursday, a new cooperative will open in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis along Minnehaha Avenue.

It will be the first time this group of Black artists will have a space to call their own.

The Black Table Arts Cooperative, founded by Keno Evol, contains gathering spaces, conference and office rooms available to its members through a pay-what-you-can model.

The vision for the 1,800 square-foot building is to fill it with everything from writing work shops, meetings, open mic nights and more.

"We are really invested in gathering Black artists in the state of Minnesota to think out loud about the communities we want to create and the futures we want to walk into," said Evol.

Black Arts Table started in 2015. An open mic night and the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown weighing on many minds led to a deeper concentration on civic engagement, artistic practice and community organizing.

"There was so much grief and so much need to get together and talk about alternatives," said Evol.

The death of George Floyd in 2020 led to a flood of financial support from around the world and supporters with similar visions made the organization’s first brick and mortar space possible.

"We say over and over again, art keeps the enthusiasm of social movement alive," Evol said. "If you go to a school board meeting or a protest or a clinic and you hear a poem, it goes to the heart and feel inspired and you want to get plugged into an organization."

A recording space will soon be added, which also includes a shop area where the current 32 members' talents will be on display and for sale.

Evol calls it a home base for Black artists with endless possibilities.

"Really trying to bring people together for unapologetic Black futures and Black joy and education," said Evol.

The doors to the Black Table Arts Cooperative will officially open next Thursday at 11 a.m. for an open house. Anyone is welcome.