On-Ice Art Shanty Projects close after only one weekend

Warm weather forces more event closures

High temperatures have been above freezing, wreaking havoc on outdoor winter activities.

Organizers with the annual Art Shanty Projects on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis say the interactive winter art event is now done due to the unseasonably warm temperatures, after only being open for one weekend.

The 2024 Art Shanty Projects were originally supposed to open on Jan. 20, but the organization decided to postpone the opening by a week, to Jan. 27, to give the lake more time to freeze and have ice thick enough to safely do the program.

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The event opened on Jan. 27 as expected, and the organization says more than 10,000 people visited during opening weekend.

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However, on Thurs. Feb. 1, the organization said while the ice was still measuring 12 inches on Wednesday where the shanties are located, they decided to get the shanties off the ice and end the 2024 season because of the forecast showing sustained low temperatures above freezing posing a safety issue for people to be on-ice.

The Art Shanty Projects normally happen for four weekends in a row. With the opening weekend postponement, the year’s event was only slated to be three weekends and ended up lasting only a single weekend with the early closure.

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The Artistic Director of Art Shanty Projects, Erin Lavelle, also said it’s not possible to change the event to be on land in the area, known as Plan Beach, because with the ground not being frozen and having no snow, it would make a muddy mess of art shanties and damage the landscape.

The organization is hosting a pop-up event on Feb. 7 at Modus Locus in Minneapolis from 7-10 p.m. The event is a 20-year retrospective of the Art Shanty Projects and includes photos, costumes, art, and social activities.

Levelle also says the early closure will cause them to have a large financial gap in their annual budget as they heavily rely on donations from visitors for a large portion of it.

So far, they have about $33,000 in donations towards their goal of $99,000, but a full run of the art program usually brings in around $70,000 or more, Levelle says. The staff is asking people to make a financial contribution, if they are able, to raise funds and continue holding the event in the future.

The Art Shanty Project’s early end to the program is one of a number of winter activities in the Twin Cities area to be shortened or canceled this winter due to unusually warm temperatures, unsafe ice conditions, and lack of snow.

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