Event brought together civic, non-profit and community leaders to celebrate the history of Hennepin Avenue’s historic theatres and look forward to the future of the Hennepin Theatre District
MINNEAPOLIS (Sept. 29, 2022) — Buildings along Minneapolis’ Hennepin Avenue have served as a backdrop to 100 years of experiences at the heart of downtown. To honor the centennial birthdays of the Orpheum, State and Pantages theaters, Hennepin Theatre Trust last week held the Centennial Celebration—an event that brought together civic, non-profit and community leaders to celebrate the historic theatres and look forward to the future of the Hennepin Theatre District. Photos from the event are available to download here.
Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Centennial Celebration, held Thursday, September 22, featured performances by Spotlight Education students, the Trust’s premier musical theatre education program; skits by the cast of Brave New Workshop, the nation’s oldest sketch comedy troupe; remarks by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Council Member Lisa Goodman, Kulture Klub Executive Director Siddeeqah Shabazz and others.
“Over the past 100 years, our historic theatres have welcomed audiences for a variety of entertainment, including the largest vaudeville circuit outside of New York City in the 1920s, film previews of West Side Story and The Sound of Music in the 1960s, the world-premiere of Disney’s The Lion King in 1997, and much more. Now, in 2022, these theatres form the foundation of the nationally-recognized performing arts center that is Hennepin Theatre Trust,” said Mark Nerenhausen, President and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust. “As we toast to the 100-year birthdays of these three theatres, we look forward to all the good things to come in the Hennepin Theatre District.”
“When you stand up on stage and you square your shoulders to an audience, it creates the kind of courage, the kind of person that we want in our city and our society. When you’re forced to think outside of the box, beyond your perspectives, challenged by both the script and the audience, that gives us the kind of introspective person that we want, especially right now. Because as we recover from the last couple of years, as we not only return to the old normal but blow by the old normal, we need artists, we need creators, we need people to watch artists and creators on a weekly basis because it challenges all of us to be better, it challenges us all to take the next steps as a city and think outside the bubble. That’s what Hennepin Theatre Trust is doing every single day,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
“The trajectory of the Hennepin Theatre Trust is one that we can all be proud of—because we are all part of its success. Each of us—whether you’re a donor, sponsor, educator, student, partner or friend—is a part of this community,” said Travis Barkve, Chair of the Hennepin Theatre Trust Board and Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy & Operations Officer at Choice Bank, the presenting sponsor for the Centennial Celebration. “I cannot wait to see what is in store for the Hennepin Theatre Trust in the coming years. The Trust has grown into an incredible civic institution and performing arts center, and the best is yet to come.”
The night paid homage to the individuals who, over the past decades, banded together with a vision to save Hennepin’s historic theatres and guarantee their futures.
“For 100 years, Minnesotans have come through the lobby doors of the jewel box theatres in downtown Minneapolis’ Hennepin Theatre District to take their seats and be transported as the lights dim and the curtain rises,” said Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Goodman. “I am proud of our achievements over the decades to save these theatres for generations to come. As we look toward the next 100 years, I know that the future of the Hennepin Theatre District will be even more glittering than its past.”
“In just a few decades, it has been incredible to see Hennepin Theatre Trust grow into a nationally-recognized performing arts center that put Minneapolis back on the Broadway map. I’m so proud of our work, and so proud of this organization,” said Fred Krohn, founding President and CEO of Historic Theatre Group.
“I was so pleased that we found such solid partners at City Hall who embraced and supported our advocacy of these theatre. We knew that these theatres could once again become iconic destinations for our city and our state. We were sure that if we built it, they would come. I remain grateful to all those who stepped up to become Board members, donors or subscribers and to our entire community for supporting these historic theatres,” said Tom Hoch, founding President and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
The evening also celebrated Hennepin Theatre Trust’s partnerships in the community, including bringing the best of Broadway to downtown Minneapolis with Broadway Across America and providing spaces for creativity and enrichment with non-profit partners like Kulture Klub.
“We’re proud to have brought the biggest tours to Hennepin Avenue over the last 100 years including the world premiere of Disney’s The Lion King, Wicked, Hamilton and more,” said Jim Sheeley, President of Broadway Across America North. “Having over 6 million people experience the excitement of Broadway has helped contribute to a vibrant and thriving arts community, and we look forward to growing that in the future.”
“This year, I was honored to participate in the Trust’s It’s the People project. This project embodies the heart and soul of Minneapolis, the light and life of our community. I am proud to be a part of the It’s the People project because it shines a light on the work and the service we are doing right here in the city of Minneapolis. You don’t have to go to New York or LA or anywhere else, we are doing the work here and creating a vibrant community right in your own backyard. Thank you, Hennepin Theatre Trust,” said Kulture Klub Executive Director Siddeeqah Shabazz.
Hennepin Theatre Trust drives cultural and economic vitality in Minnesota through leadership of the dynamic Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis and educational programming that reaches every area of the state. Its historic theatres — Orpheum, State and Pantages — and event center at 900 Hennepin Avenue light up Hennepin Avenue with top-tier entertainment, including the best of Broadway and a wide variety of arts programming. Hennepin Theatre Trust is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Learn more at HennepinTheatreTrust.org.
Heart of Hennepin – celebrating 100 years of the Hennepin Theatre District
The Hennepin Theatre District has been the stage for celebrating life and art with Broadway shows, musical acts and comedians on its stages and dancing, eating, drinking and celebrating in its restaurants, bars and clubs. Many businesses have called the area home for generations. It has also been the center of numerous civil rights movements, incredible human advancement and has provided a place to gather for public reckoning, observance and healing.
To honor the centennial, Hennepin Theatre Trust is kicking off a yearlong celebration for the Orpheum, State and Pantages theatres, along with The Hennepin event center and 824 Hennepin, home to the Brave New Workshop comedy theatre. This year-long centennial celebration honors the history of the Hennepin Theatre District and looks ahead to what the future holds for the arts, the Trust and downtown neighbors. HennepinTheatreTrust.org/centennial.
This activity is made possible by voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.