arena dancers

This year ARENA DANCES in Minneapolis celebrates its 20th anniversary. Since founding this dance company, artistic director Mathew Janczewski has created more than 40 works, along with commissioned creations for other companies and educational institutions. We visited with him recently. YPP: To what do you attribute ARENA DANCES’ longevity? Janczewski: Perseverance. I started out as a project-based pickup company, lucky to get some grants and foundation support. To move forward making work from my ideas, I became a nonprofit in 2001. It’s a lot of work juggling different responsibilities including …

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Music Festivals Generating Buzz

Music Festivals

This coming weekend will see U.S. music festivals in Colorado, California and Oregon, according to Music Festival Junkies, a website tracking festivals in North America and three other continents. (If you’ll be in Belgium and like alternative music, don’t miss Pukkelpop 2015.) The number of music festivals keeps growing; the industry is making headlines for its popularity and transformational impact on the live music industry. Sampling from recent news coverage, plus offering our own background, we’ll offer three perspectives on music festivals: for promoters, fans and production staff. For Promoters, …

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One Year After the Fire, Great Plains Theatre Thrives

Abilene, Kansas

What would you do if one night, your theatre suddenly burned to the ground? That’s what happened on July 23, 2014, to the Great Plains Theatre in the small town of Abilene, Kansas, destroying the 1882 historic church that had served the Equity theatre company for the previous 20 years. The devastating loss rallied a community, however, and a year later, plans are in the works for a completely new theatre. We got in touch with Elizabeth Weese, executive director of the Great Plains Theatre, to see how the company …

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Wenger’s Transcend™ Introduces a New Era of Active Acoustical Solutions


I’ve spent my career at Wenger creating acoustical solutions designed to enhance the sound of live performance spaces all over the world. We are proud of our decades of experience in live acoustics, our broad range of acoustical solutions and our track record of quality craftsmanship and service. Today, we have announced the Transcend™ Active Acoustic System, a groundbreaking system we’ve created in partnership with the audio experts at HARMAN, an industry leader in digital signal processing technology that creates digitally enhanced acoustic environments in any venue. This fall, we’ll …

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Spotlight Q&A: MN Orchestra in Cuba

Minnesota Orchestra in Cuba

  The Minnesota Orchestra made headlines in May as the first major American orchestra to tour Cuba since President Obama’s announcement that the U.S. and Cuba would take steps to normalize relations and lift the U.S. embargo. Among the 100 musicians on the trip was harpist Ann Benjamin, who agreed to share her story with us. YPP: Tell us about your musical background. Benjamin: Everyone in my family started piano at age five. We also chose another instrument in fourth or fifth grade. I tried some other stringed instruments, but …

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Featured Facility: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN


When attendees at major charity event walked into the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a dinner gala and concert, they were expecting to see a hockey arena. Instead, spread out before them was an elegant dining room – set for 3,000 people. Finding a space large enough to accommodate guests of the event – without sacrificing the style and intimacy of a dinner gala – was a challenge. The solution? Constructing three levels of tiered platforms over the stadium-style seats, making more intimate seating than typically found …

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Future Threat? Robots Grabbing Spotlight

Robot performers

Most robots popularized in early sci-fi fiction stories or 1950s “B” movies were scary creations bent on destroying our world. Today, in contrast, real robots hold promise for improving our world as helpers. Rather than finding this evolution a source of comfort, some people consider it threatening. If robots can replicate certain human tasks, maybe good-paying jobs will be lost. Robots might become too smart and turn the tables on us humans. Where could this all lead? Cute Co-Stars. For a minute, forget the robots assembling your future car or …

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The Changing Approach to Safety: Act, Don’t React

If you haven’t flipped through the spring 2015 issue of Protocol magazine yet, here’s a good reason to do so: Anna Glover, head of safety risk management at the National Theatre in London, England, makes some excellent points about the way we all approach backstage safety today—especially in comparison to ten years ago. In her editorial, “The changing face of entertainment safety,” Glover points out that as recently as the early 2000s, safety seemed like “a bolt-on extra, to be considered after the fact.” Rather than training employees in safety …

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Western World View: Connecting Artists & Opportunities (Part 2 of 2)

Sybarite 5 Performing at the 2011 Western Arts Alliance Conference_Photo by Les Kamens, The Photo Group

Last week we started our conversation with Tim Wilson, executive director of the Western Arts Alliance (WAA), hearing about performing arts trends he’s seeing and how the economic recession impacted programming. This week we’ll learn about WAA’s international outreach. YPP: What are the trends in international work? Wilson: Venues are still interested in programming international artists, but post-9/11 security measures have made visa issues more difficult. It’s a technical, tedious and mystifying process; tax laws can be equally challenging. Some agencies and presenters hire lawyers to manage all these details. …

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Western Way: Connecting Artists & Opportunities (Part 1 of 2)

Whim W'him Performing at the 2011 Western Arts Alliance Conference_Photo by Les Kamens, The Photo Group

Established almost 50 years ago, the Western Arts Alliance (WAA) began as a booking conference but has evolved over time to become a service organization that helps connect performing artists or their representatives with venues in the western U.S. and Canada. We visited with executive director Tim Wilson recently to learn more about WAA’s activities and his perspective on the performing arts. YPP: What trends are impacting your organization? Wilson: Technology is changing our conferences. In the old days, we called the exhibit area the “resource room” – it was …

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