Dalmar Yare
Artist Dalmar Yare gives some pointers to 8-year-old Samir Muse. (Mark Vancleave/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

By Christy DeSmith

Artists and museums around the country (and the world) are reporting confusion in light of President Trump’s executive order on immigration. So how has the ban affected artists and arts groups in Minnesota?

Spokespeople from the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Walker Art Center said their organizations are unaffected by the ban for at least the near future.

The ban is most likely to affect the Cedar Cultural Center,  a nonprofit performing arts organization located in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, which is home to the largest Somali population in the United States.

The Cedar launched a program in 2014 with the ambitious name of “Midnimo.” Translation? Midnimo is Somali for “unity.”

The program specifically invites Somali musicians to Minnesota for multi-week residences. Thanks to partnerships with universities and arts groups across Greater Minnesota, Midnimo artists get to perform at venues in Minneapolis, Mankato and St. Cloud. For many Midnimo artists, it is their first opportunity to perform with a full band — and their first chance to perform for audiences outside the Somali community.

Midnimo has not, however, managed to bring artists directly from Somalia, even before Trump’s ban. “In spring of 2016, we tried to bring a group of artists directly from Somalia and the visas were all denied,” said the Cedar’s executive director, Adrienne Dorn.

Instead the program has drawn from Somali populations in Amsterdam, Toronto, London and Minneapolis. The Star Tribune wrote about the Cedar’s most recent Midnimo residents, a Somali hip-hop collective called Waayaha Cusub whose members are scattered across the globe.

Would the Waayaha Cusub residency have been possible under the new rules? That’s the question, said Dorn.

“We don’t have any artists scheduled between now and the end of May that fit squarely into the executive order,” she explained.

However, she and her colleagues are still concerned about the artist scheduled for its spring Midnimo residency. Cali Dhaanto is a singer and dancer who is from an ethnically Somali region of Ethiopia, a nation that was not covered by Trump’s order. He currently resides in Sweden. His Cedar residency is scheduled for March 19-April 17, but his visa was still pending as of Tuesday morning.

Source: Star Tribune

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