Kim Motes resigns as executive director of Shubert center

Kim Motes
Kim Motes

Kim Motes, executive director of the Minnesota Shubert Performing Arts and Education Center in Minneapolis, has resigned. In December, Motes’ will become the first, full-time managing director of Theater Latté Da, a Minneapolis performing-arts company with a focus on new musical theater.

A tremendous advocate for dance since assuming the position in 2002, Motes tirelessly championed such local companies as Zenon Dance Company, James Sewell Ballet and Minnesota Dance Theatre, three of the proposed anchor “tenants” for the renovated building.

She inspired funders, legislators, the dance community and the general public to recognize the need for a flagship dance center that would raise the profile of dance in Minnesota, while giving local dance companies a permanent home.

Motes raised $34.5 million to help renovate the boarded-up Shubert Center, next to the Hennepin Center for the Arts, into that flagship. The Shubert is scheduled to open in 2010. Included in the $34.5 million are $12 million in state bonding and, most recently, a $1.5 million Challenge Grant from the Kresge Foundation.

“It’s been seven years of really hard work and I am so proud of what’s been accomplished,” Motes says. “It’s going to be another two years before the theater is open, and I’ve realized how much I miss being close to the performing arts and helping make work happen from the business side. It felt like this is a good moment to make a transition because the Shubert’s in the best possible state it’s been in to succeed, and it should succeed. I feel like we’ve pushed the boulder, it’s crested and it’s starting to roll down the other side.

“All of the goals set forth when I started have been achieved.”

In addition to raising the project’s visibility and reaching the $34.5 million fundraising goal, she also led the Minneapolis architectural team from Miller Dunwiddie Architecture through the building’s design development process; construction documents have been completed.

Besides working on the bricks-and-mortar aspect of the project, Motes and her staff also created a successful, free on-line education program that connects Minnesota dance artists with schoolchildren throughout state, and provides behind-the-scenes programming about the process of creating and performing dance. In October, the education program received the 2008 ArtsTech Award from Technology in the Arts, a program of the Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Arts Management and Technology.

Also in October, the Shubert hosted its first live event, the hip-hop extravaganza “Groundbreaker Battle 2008.” The daylong event, which included a panel discussion on the dance, music, MC-ing and graffiti aspects of hip-hop culture, and continuous battles resulting in a final winner, drew approximately 1,000 people throughout the day.

Motes’ resignation signals more flux in the Twin Cities dance community after a number of unsettling changes in recent years that have set the community reeling. Last summer, the ouster of lighting designer and artistic director Jeff Bartlett from the Southern Theater put the local dance scene on edge. The new Southern leadership divided his artistic-director role into three artistic programming positions—music, theater and dance—with the dance programming position still not filled after months of interviewing potential candidates.

“Kim worked against all the odds to make a case for dance,” says Linda Z. Andrews, artistic director, Zenon Dance Company. “Raising money for dance is a tough job. She created a vision for dance and the Shubert that hadn’t been made in the Twin Cities before, and did a remarkable job of laying extensive groundwork and a plan for the Shubert’s future.”

“I’m still a huge advocate for dance in this community,” Motes says. “It’s been a honor to go out into the community make the case for dance. And again I’m so proud that we raised $34.5 million for the most underappreciated, under-resourced art form, an unprecedented amount for dance.”

The Shubert is a project of Artspace Projects, which hired Motes, a Minnesota native, in 2002 as the Shubert’s executive director. She came to the position after serving as director of development at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., from 1997 until 2002. For six years before that, Motes was the program manager of Performance Plus and Special Projects at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. While there, she designed adult arts education programs in ballet, modern dance, theater, classical music and jazz, and she collaborated with legendary ballerina and Balanchine muse Suzanne Farrell in the creation of a ballet-training program that’s now a national summer ballet-training program.

Motes’ position will be filled by Colin Hamilton, who last year joined the Shubert staff as director of the Shubert Capital Campaign after serving as the executive director of the Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library.

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