1. Seriously, what the heck is a water bar?
Water Bar is a bar that serves free tap water. It is a social space where people are encouraged to slow down, to learn a little bit about where water comes from and some of the issues facing water sources, or to connect with others in their community who serve water. It is both a physical place (a storefront in Minneapolis), a pop-up (which we bring to other places), and a network of creative people who continue to serve water through their arts and cultural work.
2. So you just serve water?
Yes, we serve water. Usually just tap water from whatever local place we happen to be in, or from places with stories we hope to help amplify through our work. We collect tap water from health department approved sources like restaurants or bars. We serve this water as a tasting flight or as a means of keeping people hydrated at events and festivals.
3. Is it free to visit the Water Bar?
Yes. The water is always free too. We earn our income by charging other businesses and organizations a fee for bringing Water Bar to their place or event, and by the many other creative services and projects we lead as Water Bar & Public Studio.
4. So where do you do this?
We've hosted Water Bar projects in 5 states across the country, and in large and small communities across Minnesota. Some of these projects have been long-term installations at art museums. Others have been one night pop-up projects. We have a storefront in Northeast Minneapolis that is open on weekends as a free "tap water taproom" and as a social space for people in our communities.
5. How are you funded?
Water Bar is a public benefit corporation. Our work is supported through a combination of earned income from creative services we offer to businesses, organizations, and government groups; Through the rental of our storefront space and pop-up Water Bar; Through the sale of products we develop, or that other artists develop; Through project-based partnerships with nonprofit organizations; Through our work as commissioned public artists and designers; And through social impact investments by organizations and individuals that share our passion for serving water.
6. Who do you work with?
We work with an expansive cross-sector network of partners, including other artists and activists, scientists, governments, education institutions, water advocacy organizations, cultural groups, businesses, and policymakers. You can read about some of those partners here.
7. What else do you do at Water Bar?
Our storefront space is home to a tap water bar, a community art space, a gallery, collaborative artist work space, and a retail hub for water-related education materials, as well as artist-made posters, books, and other creative stuff. We are home to a neighborhood Incubator initiative, and a Public Studio. We also have a new dance and movement program that is housed in our storefront space and led by partnering artist Jennifer Arave.
8. What's art got to do with it?
Water Bar started as a public art project, and is still an artist-led organization. Artists and artistic processes are core to everything we do at Water Bar, even when we are working with science or policy. We hire artists whenever possible, and we encourage artists to develop their skills as artists and environmental / community advocates and leaders. We are also an art space, in the formal sense, hosting residency projects, exhibitions, a dance program, and workshops.
9. Is my tap water safe to drink?
If you live in Minneapolis, or drink tap water from other public water supplies in Minnesota, you can be confident that your drinking water is tested regularly and meets public health standards. The results of those tests are made public through a drinking water report that is required by law, and issued at least yearly by your public utility. You can learn more about how tap water in Minnesota is sourced, processed, and tested here. If you have a private well, you should have your well tested at least yearly. Here is a page with good information about well water and testing in Minnesota.
10. What can I do to serve water?
At Water Bar, we take an expansive and inclusive view on what it means to serve water, and to be an advocate for safe, accessible, clean water for all. Knowing your water source and which watershed you live in is one step toward serving water! You can find out more about the watersheds of Minnesota - and the organizations that serve those watersheds - using this interactive map.
There are numerous ways to get involved in water and water issues locally, depending upon where you live and what you're most interested in! We are fans of citizen science programs like this one that monitor the water in local lakes and streams; the education and engagement work of local Watershed and Soil & Water Conservation Districts; Artists and others who create storytelling and sharing opportunities that connect people to water in place; Activist campaigns on specific water issues; Direct involvement in shaping policy by connecting with elected officials or even running for public office; Or just living with water in mind, and making choices that better protect water sources.
We recognize it can be daunting to understand the complexity of water and protecting water. Our hope is that Water Bar can be a place where people connect to these and other opportunities to serve water. Join our newsletter for updates and opportunities, or sign-up to volunteer with us! Tending bar is one way meet others who work with water in our community, and to explore ways to get involved.