Chance favors the connected mind.
— Steven Johnson

show up. do good work. make life interesting.


My name is Carl Atiya Swanson.

I'm a creator; a performer, writer and artist. I've been doing it since I was old enough to walk, and growing up in places like Cairo, Egypt and Rome, Italy (missionary kid) meant I grew up around art, architecture, culture and history. When my family moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota I kept on going and wound up with a B.A. in Studio Art from the University of Southern California. Now I just keep on making. I moved back to Minneapolis, Minnesota and brave the winters here so I can make work with collaborators like Umbrella Collective and others in this buzzing arts community.

I also work in organizations, as an administrator, connector and planner. I am the Associate Director at Springboard for the Arts, an economic and community development organization by and for artists, based in Saint Paul and Fergus Falls, Minnesota. I have an MBA from the University of St. Thomas, have served on the board of directors of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network - Twin Cities and of Dissonance, an advocacy organization for mental and physical wellness in creativity,

This is where I get joy - from projects that bring people together, create beauty and connections, and try to make the world better, more interesting. Joy also comes from biking like I'm still a kid, baking bread, cooking with fresh vegetables, cheering on soccer teams far and wide and of course, my wife and sons.

In all things, I'm game for new collaborations and ideas. Here you'll find a collection of performance, written, visual and consulting works, as a general portfolio and snapshot of a life at work. Be in touch, let's do something interesting.

Be in touch

It's the 21st century, so I'm pretty easy to find in a lot of digital corners of the world, but I always like meeting in person. Forgive me if I forget your name a couple times, I'm working on it.






…And if you’re looking for a professional bio…

Carl Atiya Swanson is Springboard for the Arts' Associate Director. He manages projects across Springboard's program areas, leads development and partnerships, and launched Creative Exchange, a national hub for stories and toolkits for artists and organizations to solve local challenges and create new opportunities. Since the launch in 2014, over 7,000 toolkits have been downloaded from Creative Exchange, facilitating artist-led projects, business skills development, and creative placemaking projects. He has presented on arts leadership, creative placemaking, and community engagement for Americans for the Arts, the Delta Regional Authority, IdeaLab, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and others.

Swanson previously worked at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and founded Crown & Sparrow, a boutique communications consulting firm specializing in work with artists. He is a theatermaker and has served on the boards of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network - Twin Cities, and Dissonance, advocating for mental health and wellness in creativity. His writing on arts and culture has been featured in Spin, City Pages, The Onion's A.V. Club, mnartists.org, and other outlets. Swanson holds a BA in Studio Art from the University of Southern California and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.

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