Trailblazers 2017: Joe Spencer

Joe Spencer // Photo by Peter Crouser

Joe Spencer // Photo by Peter Crouser

Whether or not you know it, chances are you’ve been directly impacted by the work of Joe Spencer in the City of Saint Paul. For the past 12 years, in the administration of outgoing Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Joe has served as the Director of Arts and Culture, helping to bring vitality to downtown, and our neighborhoods through advocacy and support for our creative communities.

If you’ve been to a Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra concert at the Ordway’s new Concert Hall, caught a hip-hop show at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall, a rock show at the new Palace Theatre, or a set of jazz at Vieux Carré, then you’ve experienced the impact of Joe’s work.

If you’ve seen a play at Park Square Theatre’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage, an original work at the History Theatre, caught a contemporary classical performance at Studio Z, attended the Twin Cities Jazz Festival at Mears Park, or checked out the Minnesota Museum of American Art’s new museum space, then you’ve experienced the outcomes of Joe’s work.

Joe has been a part of, and a leader within, an administration whose policies have prioritized the arts as a key to a healthy, livable community. This has been demonstrated time and again by Joe’s unwavering support for artists, arts organizations, and audiences. As a result, his work has literally helped transform our great city, and has created an impact that will last well into the future.

And though he’s formally transitioned out of the Mayor’s Office as Mayor Chris Coleman prepares for a gubernatorial run, Joe will continue to contribute to Saint Paul’s vitality in a new role as a principal project manager at the Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Bravo, Joe, and thank you for your incredible service to our city.


Trailblazers are the people, ideas, businesses, and organizations doing necessary, important, and groundbreaking work in the realms of food, drink, and culture. See the rest of The Growler’s 2017 Trailblazers here.