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Gillette leaving Fringe Fest; Lanesboro named top-12 arts town

ALSO: State Fair adding pop-up acts; ARTCRANK party is Saturday; Comic Artists at the Opera opening; and more.

gillette portrait
Robin Gillette

After seven years as executive director of the Minnesota Fringe Festival, Robin Gillette is stepping down. During her tenure, attendance rose by 23 percent, artists were paid 34 percent more, individual donors increased 43 percent, Fringe established a cash reserve of over $100,000, and 5,095 performances of 979 productions took place. Gillette will stay on through this year’s 20th anniversary festival (Aug. 1-11). 

The clock is ticking loudly on the SPCO as the management-imposed deadline for reaching agreement on the contract dispute approaches. In a statement issued March 22, acting president Dobson West wrote, “We need to reach an agreement … by April 8 or we will be forced to cancel the rest of the season.” No agreement had been reached by Thursday night, but there was we said/they said back-and-forth earlier in the week, with each side claiming the other doesn’t understand. The musicians have accepted the economic terms and the reduction of full-time positions in the orchestra; the remaining problems have to do with job security and media. On Wednesday, management suggested a meeting “to make sure we all understand what is and is not in our proposal.” Responding through their attorney, the musicians declined, stating “the meeting you proposed will serve no purpose.” Update: Concerned about Monday’s deadline, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman once again stepped into the fray. He asked management to remove any contingencies on agreement with the American Federation of Musicians (these are the media issues) from its proposal to the local union. He further asked management to extend its deadline. In response, management agreed to push the deadline forward to April 15 (and cancel concerts only through May 5) if the musicians’ negotiating committee agrees before 5 p.m. Monday to put the latest proposal to a vote and recommend that it be ratified.

Planning a trip to Lanesboro? Artplace, a collaboration of 13 leading national and regional foundations (and six big banks) just named the scenic Minnesota town one of the Top Twelve Small-Town ArtPlaces for 2013. The towns were chosen because they have the highest concentrations of arts nonprofits, core arts-oriented business, and workers in creative occupations among smaller towns in the United States. The others are (in alpha order by state) Eureka Springs, Ark.; Crested  Butte, Colo.; Ketchum, Idaho; Vineyard Haven, Mass.; Boothbay Harbor, Maine; Highlands, N.C.; Taos, N.M.; Marfa, Texas; Stowe, Vt.; Eastsound, Wash.; and Saratoga, Wyo.

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Add this to your Things-to-Do-in-the-Twin-Cities list: a Summit Avenue Walking Tour. Every weekend from May through September, Minnesota Historical Society guides lead 90-minute strolls through the stately Summit Avenue neighborhood lined with Gilded Age mansions. Starting at the James J. Hill House, ending at Cathedral of St. Paul across the street, the tour covers 1.5 miles. FMI.

National Arts Advocacy Day is next Tuesday, April 9. If you can’t go to D.C., you can write to your members of Congress. Americans for the Arts has made it easy by preparing an email for you to send. The letter calls for funding the NEA at $155 million, funding the Arts in Education program at $30 million, protecting the charitable tax deduction, and other actions that support the arts. If you don’t like everything the letter says, or you want to add your own words, you can make changes.

The State Fair is adding pop-up entertainment to its 2013 lineup, and performing artists of all kinds (theater, dance, choral, more) are invited to apply. For four consecutive days during the fair, you’ll give four performances per day of up to 10 minutes each. We can’t help thinking that stilt walkers and pogo stick jumpers will get preference. FMI and link to RFP.

For emerging composers and other creative music-makers: The Jerome Fund for New Music is offering grants of up to $7,000 to create a new work and $1,500 to help make it happen. You don’t have to “self-identify as a ‘composer’ ” (God forbid), but you do have to be at an early stage in your career, under-recognized, and a resident of Minnesota or the five boroughs of New York City. “JFund welcomes applications from the whole range of musical paths and is committed to supporting a diverse pool of artists.” Improvisers, this is for you. Application deadline Friday, Aug. 16. FMI.

For writers: two terrific learning opportunities at the Loft. On the weekend of April 27-28, the Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Writing Conference will feature keynotes William Kent Krueger (Cork O’Connor mystery series) and Marcus Sakey (“The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes”), plus Erin HartEllen Hart, Mary Logue and other favorites.  On May 18-19, the Children’s and Young Adult Literature Conference features Caldecott winner David Small, author Sarah Stewart, and Donna Bray of Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins and former editorial director of Hyperion Books for Children. Also on hand: William Alexander, Kelly Barnhill, Georgia Greeley and other award-winning writers. Click the links FMI.

Jazz Appreciation Month continues. Here’s one writer’s list (OK, mine) of recommended events from now through April 30. 

Our picks for the weekend

Opening tonight (Friday, April 5) at Altered Esthetics“Comic Artists at the Opera.” For the past three years, members of the Black Hat Collective have attended the final full dress rehearsal of each Minnesota Opera production with booklights, tablets and art materials in hand, drawing what they see in comic book/graphic novel style(s). We love this idea and congratulate the Minnesota Opera for letting it happen. A collection of works, made on location at the Ordway, are on display through April 25. Opening reception 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.

hops photo
Courtesy of Altered Esthetics
Jamie Schumacher’s “Hoptastic,” part of the “Brewers’ Craft” show.

At the same time, in the same placeyou can get a glimpse into beer culture with “Brewers’ Craft,” a show of photographs, paintings, prints, and watercolors celebrating all things beer. Craft beer is the new wine (some say), and it seems that new breweries and taprooms are opening every day in Minneapolis (including Indeed Brewing Co., located down the street from AE). Will beer be served? We hope so. Through April 5. Opening reception 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Opening tonight at Carleton College’s Perlman Teaching Museum“Alice and Wonderland.” Lewis Carroll’s story about the little girl who tumbles down the rabbit hole has inspired artists since its first publication in 1865. This show features works by four artists – three from Minnesota, one from South Africa – who visit Wonderland through photography, painting, computer technology, drawing, and “magic mushrooms.” The artists include Kate Casanova, Alexa Horochowski, John Largaespada, and Wilma Cruise. Through April 28. Opening reception (with remarks by Casanova and Largaespada) 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. FMI.

khmer dance
Courtesy of Northrop Dance/John Shapiro
Khmer Arts Ensemble’s “A Bend in the River.”

Tonight at the State TheatreKhmer Arts Ensemble“A Bend in the River.” The Cambodian dance troupe makes its Minnesota debut with the world premiere of a new work featuring 15 dancers, two oversized crocodile puppets, and eight instrumentalists and singers. Choreographer and director Sophiline Cheam Shapiro is a National Heritage Fellow and McKnight International Fellow. As a child, she survived the Khmer Rouge (her father and two brothers did not), during which 90 percent of Cambodia’s artists and scholars were lost; she is committed to reviving the traditions of Cambodian dance. Presented by Northrop Dance, this promises to be magical. 8 p.m. Free performance preview at nearby Solera, 6:45. FMI and tickets

Tonight and tomorrow at the Artists’ Quarter: “Billy Holloman: The Legend Returns.” For 10 years, Holloman led the Tuesday Night Band and Organ Night at the AQ, presiding over the Hammond B-3. He left the Twin Cities in 2004 and fans are probably lining up already to see him. A lot of people are talking about this show. 9 p.m., $15 at the door.

Tonight and tomorrow at the Ted Mann“It Gets Amazing,” the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus spring concert. TCGMC revisits Tomie de Paola’s “Oliver Button Is a Sissy” and premieres “Testimony,” a new work by Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked,” “Godspell”) composed for the GLBT choral movement and based on texts from the It Gets Better Project. Polar explorer Ann Bancroft will narrate “Oliver Button.” FMI and tickets.

artcrank photo
Courtesy of ARTCRANK
ARTCRANK: Bikes, beer and posters.

Saturday at the Grain Belt StudiosARTCRANK Bike Art Party. Minneapolis has more bikes, more bikers, and more bike paths than ever. (Strib columnist Jon Tevlin just promised to ride his bike every day for the month of April.) We also love art, craft beers (see above), and parties, so it’s no surprise that the annual ARTCRANK event is a giant blowout. Last year, more than 4,000 people came; this year, who knows? Buy original, limited-edition, signed and numbered bike-themed posters from 45 local artists (all $40), have your bike valet-parked for free, take home a pint glass or two. Proceeds benefit Springboard for the Arts and its efforts to provide medical care to uninsured Twin Cities artists and their families. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., 79 Thirteenth Ave. NE.  Post-party, the show moves to One on One Bicycle Studio in the warehouse district from April 11 to May 4.

Saturday and Sunday at the Mall of AmericaMinnesota Monthly hosts its fifth annual local Chef Challenge. Eight chefs — including Doug Flicker (Piccolo), JD Fratzke (The Strip Club), Sameh Wadi (Saffron) and Sarah Master (Barbette) — will compete in elimination tests on Saturday. The two left standing will duke it out on Sunday. It’s our own “Top Chef,” minus the ominous knife sounds and (sadly) Padma Lakshmi, although our judges will include Mariel Hemingway. Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the rotunda. FMI.

Saturday and Sunday: “Awake the Voice!” An all-Bach program by the Minnesota Chorale and instrumentalists from the Minnesota Bach Ensemble, led by Kathy Saltzman Romey. With “Wachet auf” (“Sleepers Awake”) and two motets for double choir. 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Nativity Catholic Church in St. Paul, 3 p.m. Sunday at Wayzata Community ChurchFMI and tickets.

Sunday at the DakotaMax Raabe and Palast Orchester. Think “Cabaret” (the movie), a 12-piece band in evening dress, and a tall, thin, elegantly attired, blonde baritone crooning Cole Porter, George Gershwin, romantic ballads and parodies of Britney Spears. This concert was originally booked at the Convention Center as part of the Orchestra Hall season. Here’s your chance to see it in a smaller room, with a cocktail. Nostalgic, classy, witty and entertaining. Watch a videoRead Mordecai Specktor’s interview. 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. FMI and tickets.