Local Current Blog

Two Minneapolis conferences to examine the legacy of Prince

Paisley Park after Prince's passing. Photo by Bridget Bennett for MPR.

Artists, entrepreneurs and academics are invited to gather and learn from Prince. October 2016 and April 2018, respectively, will see a Prince-centered Giant Steps MN conference and University of Minnesota symposium study the icon’s legacy.

On October 7, Giant Steps MN will hit the Minneapolis Convention Center and examine the ways Prince continues to touch Minnesota (and beyond). Speakers will include David “TC” Ellis (founder/director of the High School For Recording Arts and one-time Paisley Park Records signee), Houston White, Jr. (owner of H. White Men’s Room and proponent of Black Excellence), and Jana Shortal (KARE 11 reporter and expert mold-breaker). Attendees will have opportunities to discuss Prince’s life and career, talk with past speakers one-on-one, and watch a panel featuring Andrea Swensson, Robyne Robinson, St. Paul Peterson, Gary Hines, PaviElle, and leaders in the Twin Cities’ black community.

Giant Steps invites anyone and everyone to join the conference. According to a press release, they “deliberately [mix] creative backgrounds, including chefs, designers, dancers, architects, photographers, playwrights, film-makers, inventors, hip hop artists, and more,” with the hope of vibrant learning and cross-disciplinary enrichment. Regular tickets are $130, while “Early Dove” prices are still in force at $110. Scholarship opportunities (through Giant Steps or partner organizations) are available.

At the U, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Arun Saldanha has received funding for a two- or three-day symposium titled “Prince from Minneapolis: The Geography of Genius.” He submitted his proposal (which teases a student-run GIS mapping project integrated with oral histories, the composition of original music, and a deep dive into the Minneapolis Sound) on March 21, 2016.

Like so many others, Saldanha was crushed by the news on April 21. He’d been a fan since the age of 11, and he’d hoped that Prince would want to stop by. Saldanha said, “I wanted to award him an honorary doctorate.”

Sadly, Prince can’t be there, but Matt Fink (of the Revolution) is on board to participate, and Saldanha hopes that artists such as Questlove and other Prince legacy bearers will make time for a trip to Minneapolis. Saldanha is also hoping to make the gathering as affordable as possible, ensuring that the community can attend.