Salem Arts Exchange exists to be a joyful, creative gathering place for refugee women where friendships are formed, beautiful handicrafts are produced and lives are pointed to Christ.


To engage the Church to serve its refugee neighbor through the universal language of arts & crafts.   


  • Humility as we seek greater understanding of other’s cultural/religious differences

  • Patient and Encouraging in teaching each other in all forms of education (language and arts)

  • Building bridges through genuine friendships cross-culturally, urban/suburban, and multigenerational

  • Collaborative environment where creativity and new ideas are encouraged

  • Transparent and ethical financial dealings with appropriate accountability and governance

  • A striving for excellence in all of our training and artisanship

  • A warm, inviting atmosphere


1.  When did Salem Arts Exchange start?

Salem Arts Exchange started in 2013 from the invitation of New City of Nations Church's Asset-Based Community Development Program

2. Who were the founders of Salem Arts Exchange?

SAE was founded by Kris Engel, Trudi Whitson and Anna Behnen

3. What countries are the refugee and immigrant women from? 

At this time, countries throughout Africa and South America

2. Why do refugee women come to Salem Arts Exchange?  

- To belong to a welcoming community of women

-  To learn how to sew and produce beautiful handicrafts

- To improve their English skills

- To earn income from the sales of the product they create

3. What does a new student do when they first arrive at Salem Arts Exchange?

They take a tour of our studio and meet the volunteers and other sewers. If interested in participating, they will fill out an application.

4. How is a student taught to sew and create other handicrafts?

They are paired with a volunteer teacher who starts to teach beginning sewing skills using a 14-lesson curriculum. A completion of each curriculum takes a variable amount of time, depending on the student attendance and ability to become proficient at skills taught.

5. When a student is proficient with basic sewing/handicraft skills, what is next?

The student works on learning and creating items to be sold. The student is required to master the product before it is sent out to market to sell. After a mastery is achieved, a student will be eligible to apply to the Lydia Program. 

6. Where are the students' items being sold?

The items are sold at "pop-up" shops, church boutiques, coffee shops, and artisan consignment shops. Fifty percent of the proceeds go back to the students and the remainder is used to cover materials, supplies and other expenses incurred to operate Salem Arts Exchange. All teachers and staff at Salem Arts Exchange are unpaid volunteers.

7. Can I visit your studio?

Absolutely! We love visitors and encourage you and your friends to stop by and see our joyful community in action. Our studio is open on Tuesdays. Be sure to follow our Facebook or Instagram for announcements.

8. How can an organization or individual financially support Salem Arts Exchange?

We welcome and encourage all to become financial supporters of Salem Arts Exchange. Many corporation offer matching charitable gifts to a non-profit organization. Please prayerfully consider supporting Salem Arts Exchange. We sincerely appreciate your generosity.

9. How is Salem Arts Funded?

Salem Arts Exchange is a non-profit organization. Our funding comes from both the sales of the products and from generous donations of individuals (like you!), businesses, foundations, and churches who are passionate about creating hope for women.

10. Are donations to Salem Arts Exchange tax-deductible?

Yes. Salem Arts Exchange is a registered 501 (c) (3) charity under the umbrella of Arrive Ministries, which houses all of our funds and accounting. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible. 



2601 12th Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55407

Our studio is currently closed following COVID-19 shelter-in-place order

until further notice.

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