Celtic Junction Arts Review

Instinct, Innovation, and Inspiration

Natalie Nugent O’Shea

We have had to ask some tough questions over the last nine months, questions which challenged us in ways we could not have foreseen:

“What do you do when you are shut down for a few weeks?”

Instinct… Hunker down and provide free online concerts to support your artists, check on your community, and communicate with other groups going through the shut-down.

“What if you may be unable to operate for a few months?”

Thinking bubble ...?!

Innovation… Shift your Education and Library programs online, create an outdoor Concert Series, get smart with budgets, and apply for new grants and relief programs.

 “What if you are going to stand dark and empty for well over a YEAR?

… … … ?

Well, if you can picture an empty, white cartoon bubble – that was it. What do we do?

Our annual report released in February 2020 had looked so robust and healthy, our young non-profit just emerging fully formed from its initial period of creation and establishment.  We pivoted, we invented, and we shifted with necessity, but how were we to meet the crisis we were facing?

Looking deeply at our viability as an arts organization in a pandemic and a recession, we had to ask ourselves the most critical question… What are we worth as Minnesota’s Irish Cultural Center? Do we still hold value when our people can’t convene? Was our eleven years together a collective dream that would evaporate?

Celtic Junction was given its life by people coming together. It is that curious kind of place where you can make a friend-for-life in an evening, you could sit beside someone you have known for years and watch them transform in front of your eyes, or meet up with someone you haven’t seen for years and feel the time slip away… There is a magic in the meeting. What happens when you can’t access what made you? We have primarily been a community-supported organization. What happens when our community itself is under duress?

Thinking bubble 'HOW?'

That, perhaps, is where Inspiration stepped in. If we ever questioned whether that same energy could be waiting there, in the hearts and minds of our supporters, that was answered in a resounding breath – YES. Due to the timely generosity of one of Celtic Junction’s dear friends, we have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to earn $100,000 — if we can match it!

Well, to be fair, that empty cartoon bubble quickly filled with one question, HOW? We were so deeply honored at the gift but genuinely gobsmacked with the challenge that came with it. We have never raised that level of funds before, not in all four years of our fundraising combined. How do we accomplish that when we can’t even host an event? That is where our Program Directors, Board of Directors, and CJAC Staff stepped up.

Together, we brainstormed and created four in-depth, hour-long programs on each of our four core programs with our Program Directors.  We reached out to artists and collected hours of entertainment for an event.  We reached out to supporters and community members, asking what makes the Junction special to them.  It turns out this was my favorite part – every one of their testimonials brought tears to my eyes.

We got our good friends from McCauley media to help us put it all together, and we made a six-hour stream-a-thon (yes, I made up that word, I hope you like it.) Within that six hours, we surpassed our half-way point. Now, after one short month, we have raised over $66,000. We have been humbled by this level of support.

That said, we are not there yet. Please consider helping us to complete this challenge, and to match our $100,000 dollar gift.  We are excited to design our dedicated Education classroom. We can’t wait for the day when we can be together again. We endeavor to be your Minnesota Irish Center for many years to come.  Thank you for the inspiration to carry on, we appreciate each and every one of you who have made all this possible.


Natalie Nugent O’Shea