Felix Foster has Stories to Tell

In an arts world of critics and gatekeepers, Felix Foster invites artists into his life and sends them off with a knapsack of knowledge. He entered the publishing world as a high schooler, helping select and edit submissions to the Saint Paul Almanac. Since then, he has become the series’ editor-in-chief, and when he’s not creating or editing stories, he is lending his expertise to emerging artists.

Hi, Felix! Please share a little about your creative practice.
In terms of my creative and artistic work, I focus [on] writing, primarily. I do a little bit of web design, but my background is in publishing, so writing and editing are the two things that I’m most into. I’m also a hobbyist in video game development. I’m really interested in story-sharing and helping people to tell their stories.

I volunteered with the Saint Paul Almanac when I was in high school, doing their community editor program, which is a group of about 20 people — from mostly Saint Paul, but a little bit of Minneapolis, too — who come together and read all the story submissions and work on their own writing and then decide what goes into each edition of the book. I did that for a year or two, and then they invited me to join the board for the organization, and that was kind of my first foray into the world of nonprofits and board leadership and all that. But yes, I stuck around, and then after I left the board, I joined the staff side of things, and I was doing some web management and administrating project management for the book and the Storymobile program. And then the past two or three editions — I want to say two, maybe three — I’ve been the editor-in-chief.

What are projects that you have going right now or an idea in the making? What’s a project you’d like to see happen?
[The St. Paul Almanac] hired an executive director, Pamela [Fletcher Bush], who’s been running things lately and trying to figure things out with COVID. Carolyn [Holbrook] has come on as the new lead editor for the community editors program. The three of us got together at about this time last year, right before the shutdown, and just completely reenvisioned the program. The goal of our reenvisioning was to make the process more sustainable, because the way the community editors worked was on such a short time period. It was, like, three months to get 20 people in a room to get to know each other and read all these hundreds of submissions and work on their own writing and learn about editing and publishing. So we’re hoping to expand it to more of a year-round model, and that may take the form of not necessarily publishing an annual book, but maybe like every other year. It would be substantially more expensive, so we’re looking at funding.

Other than that, the big project that I’ve been working on is a big digital variety show for the Black queer community in the Twin Cities. It was inspired by Black Queer Town Hall, this event that happened in New York as a response to COVID and George Floyd’s killing and that protest movement. So I reached out to the people in New York and asked if they want to partner to do something like that here, and we did, and it was pretty successful. It was a two-day event, and the days were broken up into discussion panels, with activists and politicians and entertainers, and then there would be drag shows and musical performances, just uplifting hope and storytelling. But it was on such a short time span and very rushed. So now with things going, hopefully, a little bit more back to normal, I’m trying to figure out how to carry on that momentum.

How did you start working with Springboard for the Arts?
I was working with the McKnight Foundation on a couple of their fellowship administrator cohorts, for all of their fellowship grants. And Adia [Morris Swanger] from Springboard was there, talking about the career consultants, and I was like, “Oh, that’s super cool.” I knew about Springboard, but I didn’t know about that program. So I just kind of chatted with her about it, and then one thing led to another, and I ended up joining. That was sometime between 2019 and early 2020. I’ve done a handful [of consultations] so far, and they’ve all been really nice, and it’s cool to get to talk to the artists.

What’s something you wish others knew about you?
One thing is that I’ve been trying to figure out how to move inside of [this feeling that] I’m young. Honestly, I’m not that young anymore, but I look young. I mean, because I started so young, I have this very inherent feeling like I’m the youngest person in the room, like, everyone else is more experienced than me. But I have been working in the space for over a decade at this point, so I’m trying to position myself as having the experience that I do have.

Springboard Resources
Artist Career Consultants, available for virtual consultations: https://springboardforthearts.org/consultants/
Workshops & Events Calendar: https://springboardforthearts.org/events/
Work of Art and Handbook for Artists Working in Community books: https://springboardforthearts.org/buy-books/
Ready Go roster of mobile artist tools: http://readygoart.com/

Editor’s note: As the national platform for Springboard for the Arts, Creative Exchange has long been a platform to highlight the artists, resources, and efforts in our national network. In this pandemic, as Springboard for the Arts’ work is increasingly online and accessible nationally, we’ll be turning the spotlight on Springboard staff and our Artist Career Consultants, to share more about who we are and the work we do. Enjoy!