Pre-In Progress

In Progress is built upon the dedicated work of a number of artists, educators and youth. The timeline below outlines a series of pivotal moments that came to shape the mission, programs and activities now provided by In Progress:

  • 1987 Artist Kristine Sorensen begins teaching video in rural and urban communities on behalf of Film In the Cities, the largest non-profit media center in the Midwest..  
  • 1993 Film In the Cities, folds and disappears from the community. Sorensen begins her own business, while partnering with local non-profits to find homes for valuable media arts programs. 
  • 1995 Kris Sorensen conducts a video arts residency for students at Saint Paul Open School where she is introduced to 14 year-old Sai Thao, who together begin to spark the beginnings of what will become In Progress.
  • 1996 Bienvenida Matias, Executive Director of the Center for Arts Criticism, invites  Sorensen to partner with her to teach a workshop for Latino youth living in Crookston Minnesota. The collaboration is powerful for all involved and marks the birth of the Fresh Voices, an ongoing media arts program.  

The Early Years

It was in 1999 that In Progress found it’s name, it’s identity and the purpose it seeks to fulfill to this day. The timeline below outlines a series of pivotal moments that came to shape the mission, programs and activities now provided by In Progress:

  • 1999 Youth media artist, Sai Thao approaches Kris Sorensen with her interest in teaching and pursuing a career as a media artist. Sorensen hire’s her and begins teaching her the basics of program development and instruction.  It is the beginning of what will later become In Progress.
  • 2000 Beni Matias, resigns from the Center for Arts Criticism to move back to her home of New York City. With only the youth programs still funded, and a handful of board members left, In Progress begins to strategize its next steps as an organization. The board of directors reorganizes, Sorensen steps in to provide management services.
  • 2001 With a new board of directors, In Progress begins the arduous task of rethinking its mission, constituency, and key program services. The board grows to seven, youth programs continue to expand in size, and young artists become an integral part of providing In Progress services.
  • 2002 The Center for Arts Criticism begins the legal work of changing its name to that of In Progress. The board of directors get organized. Mission statement, and bylaws are revised to reflect the existing nature of the organization. Programs grow to serving well over 1000.
  • 2003 In Progress moves into a studio unit that is 500 sq ft in diameter. The move is rough, and presents some serious growing pains for the young artists charged with renovating and supervising the space. They manage however, working hard to help In Progress present a unique identity for itself as an organization now standing on its own two legs. It is a brave and much needed move.
  • 2012 In Progress takes a big step, moving into a store-front space in the north-end neighborhood of Saint Paul.  The space triples the amount of work and exhibit space and centers itself in neighborhood that is filled with families and young makers.   A remodel takes place and In Progress officially opens it doors to its new neighborhood in the summer.



In Progress Today

The key to understanding the effectiveness of In Progress, is in knowing the slow, progressive history of work, evidenced by the individuals that now lead In Progress. 

  • Low Overhead Progress typically works with an administrative budget of less than 10% of our annual budget. Of that amount, 35% is spent on professional and support services.  Another 50% is spent on contract management, board coordination and bookkeeping . Of the remaining 15%, funds are spent on travel and meeting expenses needed to govern the organization.  Given that, now recognize that In Progress presently serves 4 - 6 different geographic communities each year, covering a physical distance of more than 1200 miles.  
  • Studio Space   In Progress maintains studio space in the north-end neighborhood of Saint Paul, that is used primarily as a place where artists can come and access equipment, create, and visit .    All space  is dedicated for direct services use.  There is no need for administrative offices as it keeps decision-makers closely tied to their constituency.  Presently,  studio space offers a main floor gallery and meeting space, a screening room, editing facility, music studio, and outdoor patio.   
  • Artist Roster  Since it’s inception, In Progress has tripled its revenues, with no employees and no substantial growth in general administrative expenditures. All staff are contracted to provide direct services to programs and for key management needs.  Volunteers presently donate their time  in professional support to sustain programming efforts. They have been doing this since 1999 and will continue to do so as long as it is to the benefit of In Progress. As the needs of the organization grow, the need for experienced professional services is increasing.
  • Resource Sharing In the early 1990s, production tools were scare and expensive. Cameras and editing systems barely existed, at least in terms of distantly spread rural communities.  By developing a communal process for managing goods and services, not only did In Progress programs develop a sense of mutual respect and trust, but they were individually able to accomplish ten times more than what they would have without that shared giving.  It is these values that carry In Progress forward – we are stronger together than we are separated – we need each other – and we will take care of one another.
  • Effective & Efficient Management  To keep In Progress running smoothly, administrative bureaucracy is kept to a minimum and the organization maintains the most updated technology to ensure efficient management. As In Progress grows, responsibilities will expand, but a sound foundation is in place to ensure that the legal and ethical management of In Progress continues to meet the highest standards.