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Letter from the Director

This past year the Walker was featured in more than 500 articles in local, national, and international newspapers, lifestyle magazines, arts publications, and architectural journals, many noting its impressive expansion and the magnetic new work our facility incubates. Walker programs brought the world to galleries, stages, and screening rooms close to home. For instance, the Walker co- commissioned New York-based Sarah Michelson's unique site-specific dance piece Daylight (for Minneapolis), which took place in September and featured 50 local performers ranging in age from 8 to 60. Among the participants were Walker tour guides, high school students from the Perpich Center for Arts Education, and children from various schools throughout the Twin Cities, including Young Dance and the Burnsville Youth Dance Ensemble & School. Projects such as these forge new relationships as well as audiences; it has been wonderful to see many of the students returning to the McGuire Theater to attend events throughout the year.

We also were thrilled to host some tremendously talented filmmakers this year. In December 2005, the Walker's premiere of Ang Lee's award-winning film Brokeback Mountain sold out, as did his Regis Dialogue with longtime production and writing collaborator James Schamus. The duo had been courted by a Walker film curator for more than a year, and it was particularly exciting that the dialogue took place on the day he received a number of Golden Globe nominations. Additionally, Deepa Mehta was onsite this March to introduce Water, the third and most complex film in her India trilogy, and to describe the political intimidation she overcame in order to realize this project.

The Walker's design department, which produces all our publications as well as educational and marketing materials, received a great deal of recognition. "Walker Expanded," the new identity system, took top honors in this year's ID Magazine Annual Design Review. The jurors wrote, "In a field of well-produced one-offs, the ambitious new graphic identity for the Walker Art Center's expanded digs stood out to the jurors immediately as the obvious choice for Best of Category." The Walker's new graphic identity was also selected by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) as one of 82 examples of outstanding design produced in 2005. The AIGA Annual Design Competition is the premier design recognition competition in the United States, and Walker Expanded, competing in the brand and ID systems category, was selected for recognition from a field of more than 4,600 entries.

In September, the Walker published a new 256-page book entitled Expanding the Center that chronicles the five-year effort to design and program the Walker's recent expansion. Developed as a guide for other cultural projects rather than a simple picture book, the publication provides extensive background on the "experience planning" process involving a cross-disciplinary team of staff who articulated the artistic, social, and educational aspirations that shaped the architecture. The new Walker begins to reflect our long-range plan to create a pioneering 21st-century multidisciplinary arts center with audience engagement and experiential learning at its core that will become a pleasurable destination--real and virtual.

While most museums are quiet places, the Walker is a center of animated conversation as well as introspective meditation. With its expanded learning spaces, sophisticated technology, and areas for each of the artistic disciplines, the Walker has created new programs that link contemporary art to social issues and civic engagement. These programs continue to focus on increasing participation by removing barriers and promoting deeper levels of involvement.