Duluth—Zeitgeist, a German noun meaning “spirit of the time,” is a very fitting name for the Zeitgeist Center for Arts and Community in downtown Duluth. From Superior Street, Zeitgeist appears in lights as a trendy, artsy, theater/café combo. That is accurate; however, it is so much more than that.
The building itself is made up of the Zeitgeist Arts Café with two art galleries that are free for artists to display their work, the Teatro Zuccone Performance Theater, and the Zinema 2 movie theaters for independent films. Beyond that, though, the art center is made up of community-focused people whose values are tied to a commitment to the environment, arts and culture.
Communications and creative director of Zeitgeist, Sarah Lueck, says that one of the things they strive for is to pay local artists and performers a living wage with the hopes of retaining talent in Duluth. This isn’t an easy task, but there is a way they are able to support within their “Resident Artist Program.” This program uses grant funding to pay a select pool of performers a higher wage.
“I always make a case that this is no different than a job that someone punches in nine-to-five. This is also work but, not only that, it is arts and culture that are important to the human experience,” Lueck said.
Along with Zeitgeist’s efforts in trying to retain talent in Duluth, they also aim to fuse that artistic talent into community programming. One example of that is their work with the Lincoln Park Farmer’s Market. Each year, Zeitgeist partners with the Duluth Community Garden Program to host a weekly farmer’s market. They bring musicians and artists to entertain and share their work with the community.
“We are committed to a bright, thriving future for this community for generations to come,” Lueck said.
Another way that Zeitgeist supports the community is by sourcing food from local farms for their Café. In fact, the goal is for all their food to be locally sourced except for things like scallops, that aren’t native to this area.
“Our executive chef, Matthew Lyons, works hard at building relationships with folks in the community and is very thorough in what that looks like and where the food comes from. He can tell the full story of what we are able to support locally.”
Dan Stocke, a local entrepreneur, is a huge supporter of Zeitgeist. Being from the area originally, he found his way back to Duluth after living in New York City for awhile. Coming back from NYC, he admitted that he originally did not expect that a small town theater production could be as amazing as it was.
“The first time my wife and I saw a Renegade show at the Teatro Zuccone, we thought they did amazing work. I was thinking, ‘wow that was one of the best things we’ve seen.’ There is real talent in this town,” he said.
Living nearby, Stocke uses the space at times for small business meetings. He describes it as a living room to the neighborhood and spectacular space for artists.
“I could spend the entire day here or a night on the town without leaving one building. I can have a business meeting in the morning, see a movie, check out the art galleries, eat dinner in the Arts Café, and end the night with a Renegade improv show,” he said.
For more information on what’s happening at Zeitgeist Arts, or to learn how you can get involved, visit: zeitgeistarts.com.—Ali Juten