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Arts Trust of Minnesota will continue work to find space for more art

By Misha JohnsonMay 16, 2019

The City of Rochester purchased the beautiful iconic Chateau Theatre building in 2016 and pursued plans to restore it to its original glory as a performing arts theatre.

As part of this process, the city sought proposals to activate this space temporarily until the final plans could be realized.

The Arts Trust of Minnesota (ATOM) was born from a hope to be the bridge between now and then, in addition to serving a real need in Rochester among local arts organizations seeking space in which they could thrive.

When the Rochester City Council decided to move forward with the museum group Exhibits Development Group, ATOM walked away from the meeting feeling heard and encouraged. Council members Patrick Keane and Michael Wojcik both voted in favor of our proposal, and Mayor Kim Norton said “I am committed to working with the arts community to continue to create different venues.”

Even more encouraging are the numerous emails, social media posts and citizens reaching out with a desire to keep this “movement” alive. Why are so many excited? Why is this so important right now? It’s not just about the Chateau. It’s about the people.

Rental rates for performance venues throughout town are cost prohibitive to the majority, and The Rochester Civic Theatre’s recent decisions to move into hiring more professional out-of-town equity actors and directors, has created void for local artists. ATOM became a natural consortium for our more than 20 community organizations.

The local arts scene is thriving! Both Rochester Civic Theatre and the Rochester Repertory Theatre are selling out their performances. The new Castle Community is selling out its concerts. That means there is an audience for this programming, there is room to grow, and there is absolutely no reason why such growth should be equivalent to a competition between venues.

Sue Schnell from The Rochester Repertory theatre said, “We are the third-largest city in Minnesota with well over 100,000 potential theatre attendees, along with a large number of guests and their families that visit Mayo every year. Offering them a wide variety of theatre options is what we should be working toward.”

A city that has more arts and cultural organizations equals a city burgeoning with more diverse programming, including but not limited to: theatre, indie movies, concerts, chamber music, art exhibits and cultural events. More art equals more art, and it only serves to further enrich our community.

ATOM believes when we support each other, we all benefit. ATOM will continue our search for space as that is a need that will not dissipate.

We contacted city officials the morning after the May 6 council meeting to follow up on their expressed commitment to find a viable space for our growing arts community. We look forward to what is next!

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