Last June, Springboard for the Arts bought a building at 262 University Ave. West in St. Paul that formerly housed a Ford dealership. No surprise, it had a large parking lot. Springboard bought that, too. Then it launched a $5.85 million capital campaign for redevelopment of the site. The Saint Paul, F.R. Bigelow and Mardag foundations together committed $500,000.
Now Knight Foundation has added a $1 million anchor investment. Victoria Rogers, Knight Foundation vice president for the arts, said in a statement, “Springboard for the Arts has been part of the fabric of St. Paul for 28 years, but its influence has been far reaching, extending across Minnesota and other cities within the United States … This new home will allow it to provide more local and national artists access to its unique tools and trainings, while creating a lasting, vibrant neighborhood meeting place.”
Nicknamed SpringBOX, the site has already hosted more than 150 events, including Little Mekong Night Markets. It has invited 4,500 artists, community members, organizers and partners to use the space. Currently at SpringBOX: “Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture,” an exhibition featuring the work of 21 practitioners, academics and students.
When completed, SpringBOX will be a visible home for art and community along the Green Line. It will house Springboard’s offices (the organization has been renting space in Lowertown), multipurpose community spaces, a public lawn and green space, an artist resource lab, and a large event and public space for markets, performances, artist-led projects and community celebrations.
In the words of Laura Zabel, Springboard’s executive director, “SpringBOX will create a physical, visible, and accessible home for creative people power in the neighborhood and across the city.”
This isn’t the first time Knight has supported Springboard. In January 2014, when the foundation announced $8 million in new funding for the arts in St. Paul, Springboard was one of five “anchor institutions” to share $3.5 million. The other $4.5 million would go to the Knight Arts Challenge.
Since 2005, Knight Foundation has invested more than $39 million in St. Paul, including more than $12 million in arts and culture.
Kathleen Spehar to leave the O’Shaughnessy
Our great loss is Tallahassee’s considerable gain. On Friday, St. Kate’s announced that Kathleen Spehar, director at the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, will leave her post late this summer to take on a new role as executive director at the Council on Culture and Arts (COCA) in Tallahassee, Florida.
Spehar has served as the O’Shaughnessy’s director since September 2011. In eight short years, she has built and deepened partnerships with other arts organizations; expanded and diversified programing; grown the O’Shaughnessy’s artistic and community presence on the local and national scene; amplified and supported women innovators in the performing arts; featured top choreographers, dance companies, musicians and songwriters; and presented, commissioned and supported new works and projects. In a time when fists and belts are tightening, she tripled third-party funding to the O’Shaughnessy, including five national grants in the 2018-19 season.
Spehar also made the O’Shaughnessy feel especially welcoming and accepting. We were there most recently for an extraordinary event: Toshi Reagon’s “Parable of the Sower,” a post-apocalyptic science fiction opera based on a book by Octavia Butler. It was totally sold out to one of the most mixed and enthusiastic crowds we’ve ever experienced.
Previewing the 2018-19 season, we wrote here, “Programmed by O’Shaughnessy director Kathleen Spehar, this series is one where women shine and not only in designated Women of Substance performances. Women’s ideas are showcased, their voices are heard and their work is honored all season long.”
We saw Lizzo at the O’Shaughnessy (before she was selling out the Armory), and Maria Schneider with her orchestra (Spehar left the house lights on because Schneider wanted to look out and see her friends and family), and TU Dance, and Karen Charles Threads Dance Project, and Camille A. Brown & Dancers (with an incendiary performance by Vie Boheme and Maleek Washington), and Maureen Fleming (in a jaw-dropping night of butoh), and more, but not enough. Never enough. Many of the events we were sorry to miss took place at the O’Shaughnessy.
Spehar will be here through the Momentum New Dance Festival in July. If you go, look for her in the lobby. She’ll be the spark moving through the crowd, greeting people, making sure everyone knows where they’re going, asking if anyone needs help. We’ll miss her terribly, and we wish her everything best in her new position.
We dropped our Stone Arch Bridge Festival pick into last week’s Artscape by mistake. Sorry for any confusion.
Tonight (Wednesday, June 12) at Crooners: Rose Ensemble Cabaret Night. The Rose Ensemble will give its final (and sold-out) concert at the Basilica of St. Mary on Saturday, June 15. But before then, in the new Lakeside Tent at Crooners (or the Dunsmore Room, if it rains), several Rose Ensemble singers will join pianist Dan Chouinard for an evening of show tunes, pop tunes and classical tunes. With Kristine Boerger, Peter Tuff, Bradley King, Alyssa Anderson, Daniel Mahraun, Rose Ensemble founder Jordan Sramek, Garrett Eucker and maybe more. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($10).
Thursday at the Trylon: “Bungalow Heaven: Preserving a Neighborhood.” Tired of teardowns? Worried there won’t be any charm left in Twin Cities neighborhoods in 10 years, maybe sooner? Joaquin Montalvan’s 2015 documentary tells the tale of a declining Pasadena neighborhood that chose preservation. Presented by the Twin Cities Bungalow Club. 7 p.m. FMI including trailer and tickets ($5).
Thursday through Saturday at Orchestra Hall: Minnesota Orchestra Season Finale: Vänskä Conducts Mahler’s Tenth. If you’re a famous composer of big, sprawling symphonies and you learn that your wife has been having an affair (with Walter Gropius), what do you do? You write it into your final symphony. Mahler died before its completion; the Minnesota Orchestra will perform the edition by British musicologist Deryk Cooke. Following the season finale concerts, Osmo Vänskä and the orchestra will record the Tenth for future release on the BIS label, adding to their series of Mahler recordings. Thursday at 11 a.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($30-$102). Note: Friday night’s concert will be broadcast live on Classical MPR, with Brian Newhouse in the backstage broadcast booth. This will be Newhouse’s final Minnesota Orchestra broadcast. (Don’t worry; he’s not leaving MPR.) MPR will name his Minnesota Orchestra successor in time for the 2019-20 season.
Friday at the Parkway Theater: “Mueller, She Wrote LIVE!” Come for the news, stay for the fantasy indictment draft. An all-woman political podcast born in San Diego, “Mueller, She Wrote” features A.G., a government employee who goes by her initials, and fellow stand-up comedians Jaleesa Johnson and Jordan Coburn. It began in 2017 and has been mostly recorded at the Comedy Store in La Jolla. The women are on the road and the Parkway is one of their stops. Think they’ll talk about Barr’s decision to give key documents to Congress? Or maybe mention that Google’s search tool called the Mueller report “fiction”? 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show. FMI and tickets ($30 advance, $40 door, $60 VIP Meet and Greet).
Friday through Sunday on the Minneapolis riverfront: 25th Annual Stone Arch Bridge Festival. The great downtown art, music and community festival has hit the quarter-century mark. A Father’s Day tradition, it brings more than 200 artists, 30 bands, food, family activities, a Culinary Arts Market, a Vintage and Vinyl Market, a beer sampler, an Art of the Car Show and more to the banks of the river, SE Main Street and nearby parks. It’s a beautiful part of the city, and if the weather is good, a perfect place to spend a day or two. Friday is the kick-off concert in Father Hennepin Park. The festival runs Saturday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. FMI.