Aug 21, 2023 - News

Open Streets' future unclear after Minneapolis ends partnership with group that oversees it

A previous Open Streets event. Photo: Nordy Photography via Open Streets

Minneapolis has ended its partnership with the nonprofit that runs Open Streets, leaving the future of the festivals that close popular city streets to cars unclear.

What's happening: Ward 2 Council Member Robin Wonsley announced in her newsletter Friday that the partnership between the Department of Public Works and festival organizer Our Streets Minneapolis would be ending after this year.

  • The announcement came a few weeks after Our Streets requested $851,000 in city funds to hold five events in 2024. The group's current contract was for $0.

Why it matters: Without money from the city, Open Streets, which attracted over 100,000 people across five events in 2022, won't be able to go on in 2024, Our Streets executive director José Antonio Zayas Cabán told Axios on Monday.

What he's saying: "Right now, the financial burden is on the organization. It's not sustainable," Zayas Cabán said.

  • The funds would allow Our Streets to hire additional staff, reduce or eliminate registration fees for the events and potentially expand to more areas, he added.
  • "We're focusing on marginalized communities that would be most positively impacted by something like [Open Streets] but might not be able to do it themselves," he said.

The intrigue: A city spokesperson said it was a mutual agreement to not extend the $0 contract, while Zayas Cabán said they hadn't met with the city to discuss its 2024 plans or request funds yet.

  • The newsletter was the first he had heard of the partnership ending, he said.

Between the lines: Public works plans to launch its own event series next year focused on showcasing the city's recent investments in making walking, rolling and biking safer and easier, according to a statement provided to Axios.

  • The series is not intended to replace Open Streets, the statement said.

What's next: The city council can still make changes to the budget later this year, and Zayas Cabán is "really optimistic" that the events will continue, he said.

  • The West Broadway and Lyndale Avenue Open Streets will still be held under the current contract later this year.

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