Formally known as the A.H. Zeppa Family Foundation, the Duluth staple has become more of a community-run organization. Executive Director Tony Cuneo said the reintroduced Zeitgeist Center for Arts and Community has made some changes that let the community take some of the reins.
The Duluth News Tribune reported that the organization will not be funded singlehandedly by the Zeppa Foundation, so it’s relying more on the community. This means more individual donations and a local community board, as well as oversight, support, and advisory committees.
“We’re building a future that involves total community participation and support and involvement,” Cuneo said. “It essentially means being an organization that is of the community.”
With the popular Renegade Improv comedy show at Teatro Zuccone and the countless independent films shown at the the Zinema 2, Zeitgeist Arts has become a core organization for Duluth’s art scene these past five years. It has given opportunity to many independent artists to bring their work to life for the Duluth community.
Beginning with its five-year anniversary on Oct. 20, the organization had a weeklong celebration that featured musical performances, $5 specials and several hosts including Mayor Don Ness.
To kick off the celebration, Cuneo and Ness discussed the history and future of Zeitgiest Arts. Cuneo, who has worked for the organization since 2008, said Zeitgeist Arts has joined in on traditions and have made them their own.
One of their favorites, Cuneo said, is the annual Magic Smelt Parade held by the Magic Smelt Puppet Troupe in the spring. The parade starts by the Lakewalk and goes through the doors of the Zeitgeist building, ending with a smelt fish fry.
“They bring in this wonderful brass band, and we just march around,” Cuneo said. “Everyone dresses up in silvery scales -- smelt fish costumes. We do a big smelt fish fry. It’s really one of our favorite days of the year.”
Something new Cuneo said he is looking forward to is the New Works Festival that will kick off next summer.
“That will be a process in which we are actively recruiting playwrights from (the) local (area) but also around the state to submit their work,” Cueno said. “Then, we will select three to six of them and invite them to come. We will mash them up with the director and some actors and put on their show.”
If you’d like to support the Zeitgeist Center for Arts and Community, you can donate here.