The Wallace Foundation Awards $6.9 Million to Minneapolis Saint Paul Arts Community

November 13, 2008

Contact:  Sarah Shamla                       
Tunheim Partners


Foundation Grants Wallace Excellence Awards to Eight Arts Organizations; Funds Learning Network with Arts Midwest and Minnesota Community Foundation to Enhance Audience Participation

Minneapolis / Saint Paul, November 13, 2008 – The Wallace Foundation, Arts Midwest and Minnesota Community Foundation today announced an innovative, four-year arts funding partnership designed to foster growth in public arts attendance and to identify, develop and share useful lessons on how arts organizations can reach more people.

Eight arts organizations will receive $5.3 million, and another $1.6 million will support audience-building throughout the region. In recognition of their commitment to community and audience building activities, The Wallace Foundation has given its prestigious Excellence Awards to: MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Mixed Blood Theatre Company, Northern Clay Center and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.  Each of these organizations will receive four-year grants ranging from $300,000 to $750,000. (More details on these organizations and their plans are provided at the end of this news release).

The awards were announced today at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, City of Saint Paul Deputy Mayor Ann Mulholland, Wallace Foundation President Christine DeVita and Minnesota Community Foundation President and CEO Carleen Rhodes. 

“The Excellence Awards honor organizations that have made a commitment to engage more people deeply in the arts part of their DNA,” said Christine DeVita, president of The Wallace Foundation. “We created these awards to draw national attention to the importance of engaging more people in the arts, to encourage organizations to sustain and expand the impact of their work with local constituencies, and to generate an assortment of useful, broadly applicable lessons and practices that will be helpful to the field.”
“This is an exciting mix of arts organizations that enrich our region and state,” said Carleen Rhodes, president and CEO, Minnesota Community Foundation. “We are pleased that The Wallace Foundation sought us out to play an organizing role that will enhance their individual and collective capacity.”

“Minnesotans take tremendous pride in the strength and diversity of the vibrant arts community we are fortunate enough to have access to.  Receiving national recognition from The Wallace Foundation Excellence Awards is a true honor,” said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. “This grant provides a wonderful opportunity to further strengthen our community’s participation in the arts and reach out to even more audiences, all while laying the groundwork to share their research and best practices with many other organizations of their kind.”

“The soul of our city is found in our arts community. Saint Paul is the Most Livable City in America because of what our arts institutions bring to our city with their world-class talent,” said Chris Coleman, mayor of Saint Paul. “It is wonderful to receive this national recognition and investment in institutions that have become national treasures. As we compete for business, jobs and residents, our arts community helps drive economic development and keeps Saint Paul strong and growing.”

The Wallace Foundation Excellence Awards were created to support exemplary arts organizations to pioneer effective practices to engage more people in high-value arts activities. The Awards are an important part of the Foundation’s efforts to develop and share effective ideas and practices for enhancing arts participation and bringing the benefits of the arts to all.  Along with the grant, each Excellence Award grantee also will receive technical assistance to help better understand the attitudes, preferences and behaviors of the target groups the organization is trying to reach. This information will allow them to design more effective strategies for building participation and to gather reliable evidence on program effectiveness.

In addition to giving the Excellence Award grants to eight arts organizations, The Wallace Foundation is collaborating with Arts Midwest and Minnesota Community Foundation over the next four years (2009-2012) to create a learning network for all Minneapolis/ Saint Paul arts organizations and foster arts engagement region-wide. The collaboration, funded by a grant of $1.6 million to Minnesota Community Foundation from Wallace, will inform and support the participation-building work of many arts organizations.

Minnesota Community Foundation is partnering with Arts Midwest, a regional non-profit arts organization, to create a professional development network. This four-year initiative will strengthen arts participation and engagement by encouraging leading Minneapolis Saint Paul arts organizations to rethink and improve their relationships with arts patrons and supporters to meet the demands of a changing social and economic climate.  Work will begin with interviews of arts professionals to identify the topics of greatest concern to arts organizations in their efforts to build participation.

The initiative will bolster the region’s arts “eco-system” by adding knowledge-sharing resources and a small pool of project grant funds for local arts organizations. The collaboration will promote the effective exchange of knowledge – extending the benefits of this work to many other organizations beyond those that receive individual awards.

The Wallace Foundation takes a city-based approach to its arts funding to help improve arts engagement across whole communities. Wallace chose Minneapolis Saint Paul as one of six sites for this effort because of the area’s high concentration and variety of arts organizations. Minneapolis Saint Paul stood out among others because of the robust collaboration among local funders and arts organizations around informing and supporting cultural participation. Seattle is the other city chosen for Wallace Excellence Awards grants in 2008. Philadelphia and San Francisco were chosen in 2007, Chicago and Boston in 2006.

The Wallace Foundation
The Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people.  Its three current objectives are: strengthening education leadership to improve student achievement; improving out-of-school learning opportunities; and building appreciation and demand for the arts. The Foundation maintains a Knowledge Center of free publications on what it has learned at

Arts Midwest
Arts Midwest connects people throughout the Midwest and the world to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge, and understanding across boundaries. A non-profit regional arts organization headquartered in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest serves audiences, arts organizations, and artists throughout the nine states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and beyond. Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years with partners and supporters including the National Endowment for the Arts, foundations, corporations, individual supporters, and its nine member state arts agencies. For more information, visit:

Minnesota Community Foundation
Minnesota Community Foundation is the statewide community foundation that has been bringing individuals, organizations and communities together for more than 50 years. With more than 30 Community Funds and nearly 400 donor funds, the Foundation helps donors shape and fulfill their vision for philanthropy across the state. For more information, go to www.mncommunityfound​

Direct media contacts:

At The Wallace Foundation:
Mary Trudel, Sr. Communications Officer
212-251-9815 /

At Minnesota Community Foundation:
Maggie Miller, Marketing Communications Manager
651-325-4295 / www.mnco​

At Arts Midwest:
Susan Chandler, Assistant Director 
612-341-0755 x 8025 /


MacPhail Center for Music is one of the nation’s premier community music centers and a leading Twin Cities arts organization. Founded in 1907, MacPhail is the fourth largest of 407 National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts. Annually it enrolls 7,750 students and hosts 400 recitals and performances that attract audiences of 27,000. MacPhail is Minnesota’s largest employer of teaching artists, currently employing 172 of the nation’s best professional musicians. In its 101st year, MacPhail continues its tradition of quality music programming in a new, award-winning flagship facility in Minneapolis and two suburban sites. 

With a Wallace award of $750,000 over four years, MacPhail plans to target adults aged 25 to 54 years, the fastest growing segment of musical instrument purchasers, across all music programming areas, including individual instruction, group classes, performing ensembles, music events, and performances. MacPhail seeks to increase adults’ participation in music instruction, also hoping to impact the lives of children whose parents are decision makers in this group. MacPhail is launching an organization-wide Customer Centered Approach to put customers at the center of its work. The Customer Centered Approach features rich information mining from teaching artists who work directly with students so the organization may better serve students, faculty, and the community. The ultimate goal is to establish MacPhail Center for Music as a Customer Centered Organization, with a culture that inspires customer satisfaction at every level and increases enrollment and participation throughout the community MacPhail serves.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), home to one of the finest encyclopedic art collections in the country, houses more than 80,000 works of art representing 5,000 years of world history and the diversity of human creativity. A free museum operated for the benefit of the general public, the MIA serves the communities of the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota, visitors from across the Midwest, and increasingly, a national and international audience. Annually, the MIA welcomes approximately a half million visitors and serves a strong, loyal membership base consisting of more than 23,000 households. Beyond its campus and its Purcell-Cutts House, the MIA reaches classrooms throughout the region through extensive arts education programming. Across digital platforms, the MIA creates access to art through its media-rich website and through the interactive arts education portal www.ArtsConn​​, reaching more than 7 million learners.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts will receive a grant of $750,000 over four years to implement a three-pronged strategy aimed at increasing participation of next-generation art lovers (adults ages 20 to 45) in museum life. The strategy, guided by the concept of a continuum of engagement, works across three arenas: the individual experience, the social experience, and the virtual (online) experience. During its four year grant period, the MIA will test new ways of presenting art to create more meaningful museum experiences; leverage current programs to provide events that attract and engage next-generation art lovers; and utilize Web 2.0 communications and social networking opportunities to help audiences connect with the museum.
The Minnesota Opera has been a dynamic force in the field of opera since its founding in 1963. From an early focus on new works by American composers, the company developed a national reputation and grew steadily, adding traditional repertoire in 1975 when it merged with the St. Paul Opera. With the opening of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts ten years later, the Opera found a permanent home for its annual season. A commitment to producing contemporary and new operas and rarely seen treasures of the Bel Canto period (1800-1850), to fostering young talent, to uniformly high standards for artistic excellence, and to community education have earned The Minnesota Opera loyal audiences and nationwide acclaim. The Minnesota Opera’s mission is to produce and perform opera and opera education programs at the highest artistic level that inspire and entertain audiences and enrich the cultural life of the community.

The Minnesota Opera will target its $750,000 Excellence Award to building an opera community of women between the ages of 35 and 60 through a deep relationship with FM 107.1 and its television sister station, KSTP. The media partnership is designed to change perceptions and behavior around opera attendance. Attendance will be encouraged by ticket offers and supported by invitations to participate more deeply as attendance patterns evolve. The ultimate goal is to encourage repeat ticket buyers to introduce opera to non-attending friends. On air personality Ian Punnett, will communicate directly to his listeners about the splendor of opera and create and record a series of commercials that will run on FM 107.1. He will also interview opera artists on his morning drive time show, promote pre-parties with his co-host and wife, Margery, and conduct live ticket giveaways. These opportunities will be cross-promoted on KSTP-TV and supported by advertising on both services.

The Minnesota Orchestra, founded in 1903 and now led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä, ranks among America’s top symphonic ensembles. The 98-member ensemble performs nearly 200 programs each year, primarily at its home venue of Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis. Minnesota Orchestra concerts are heard by live audiences of 400,000 annually including more than 85,000 music lovers who experience the Orchestra through educational programs for students and families.

The Minnesota Orchestra will receive $750,000 over four years to introduce new audience members to classical music through its Inside the Classics series. These concerts combine commentary from the stage with performances of a full piece of classical music. Led by Assistant Conductor Sarah Hicks and Minnesota Orchestra violist Sam Bergman, the series and its robust web presence reduce barriers to classical music attendance by altering the traditional classical concert format featuring commentary by orchestra members, video showing close-ups of performers and pre- and post-concert gatherings. The Wallace Foundation funding will allow the Minnesota Orchestra to experiment with aspects of the production and marketing of this series, as well as to gather information about the series elements that are most compelling to audiences. Wallace Foundation funding will also support the growth of Crescendo Project, a new patrons group that enhances the concert experience for younger audiences. 

The Mixed Blood Theatre Company is a professional, multi-racial theatre promoting cultural pluralism and individual equality through artistic excellence. Using theatre as a vehicle for artistry, entertainment, education, and social change, Mixed Blood addresses artificial barriers that keep people from succeeding in American society. Mixed Blood produces plays using culture-conscious casting; provides a forum for theatre artists of color to practice their craft, takes artistic risks in the selection and production of plays and produces educational programs on racial and cultural themes to reach non-traditional theatre audiences.

With its $300,000 Excellence Award, Mixed Blood Theatre seeks to broaden participation among Latinos and people with disabilities by formalizing and expanding community networks that engage the target population, enhancing engagement with the target communities; and developing content-focused programming. Mixed Blood will expand and enhance its grassroots marketing approach, contracting a Latino community liaison and a disability population liaison and forming two culturally specific advisory groups of volunteers from the target populations to serve as community advocates and content advisors. Candidates for the board of directors will be identified from within the target populations

Northern Clay Center’s (NCC) mission is the advancement of the ceramic arts. Since opening in 1990, the Center has grown dramatically and has become a valued resource for all aspects of the ceramic arts. It is the only comprehensive ceramic arts organization in the region, and has had a major impact on the quantity and quality of ceramic work done locally. Since 1994, NCC has paid almost $4 million to individual artists in grants, fees and commissions. It offers a unique schedule of exhibitions, education, publications, programming, and artist services. Special programs such as the Regis Masters Series, reach national and international audiences as well as regional participants, through lectures, symposia, and publications.  Ongoing programs  include eight to ten exhibitions each year presenting the full range of creative expression in clay; classes, workshops and outreach for children and adults at all ages and levels of proficiency; studio facilities and grants for individual artists; and a sales gallery representing many of the top ceramic artists in the region and country. 

NCC will receive $500,000 to launch a four-year program to broaden participation in its programs by people 55 and over. In anticipation of the impending retirement of the first wave of baby boomers, Northern Clay plans to tap the expertise of educators, gerontologists, groups such as ElderHostel and assisted living communities and others to devise ways to reach those over 55 who are fully independent, whose activities are limited, and those confined to 24-hour care. NCC will overcome the barrier of lack of information through a targeted marketing campaign and strategic partnerships with service and residential organizations serving these populations; and overcome the practical barrier of physical access through the addition of specific on-site and off-site activities designed for segments of the target market. Activities will focus on direct participation in the clay arts that emphasize the intrinsic benefits of hands-on arts experiences, and that enable individuals to acquire the skills that enrich subsequent arts engagement.

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts is a comprehensive performing arts center, presenting a variety of genres: touring Broadway musicals; locally produced musical theater; world music and dance; theater, dance, music, puppetry, and acrobatics at its International Children’s Festival; and performances by its Arts Partners: The Minnesota Opera, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and The Schubert Club. Since January 1985, when Ordway Center opened in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota, more than nine million people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life have participated in its performances, community engagement activities, and arts education opportunities. Annual participation numbers exceed 400,000, including 1,600 artists and 40,000 elementary and secondary students, 45% of whom are students of color and 47% of whom are low-income students. As founder Sally Ordway Irvine said, Ordway Center was envisioned as, “A place for lots of music—no, lots of everything! And for everybody!”

The goal of Ordway’s Wallace Excellence Award grant of $750,000 is to broaden and diversify participation to attract college students. The Twin Cities draw almost 300,000 traditional and non-traditional students, making the area the third highest in the nation of college students per capita. 82% of students continue to reside in the area afterward, allowing Ordway to remain connected with students when they become young professionals. The Campus Connections participation-building strategy seeks to engage college students via campus-by-campus community organizing. Ordway plans to serve as a resource center for students and faculty, not only for arts experiences and entertainment, but also for learning that is connected to classroom study. College students will be offered internship programs and on-campus opportunities to meet with artists, and to develop performance that support college courses.

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) was established in 1959 as the only full-time professional chamber orchestra in the country. Now in its 50th anniversary season, the SPCO is widely regarded as one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world. Renowned for its artistic excellence and remarkable versatility of musical styles, the SPCO is also recognized for its innovative approach to artistic leadership, musician involvement, and commitment to reaching diverse audiences through performances in eleven venues throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. In these performances, as well as its CONNECT youth music education program, Start the Music! early-childhood music education program, xplorchestra! neighborhood education program, Saturday Special high school coaching sessions, Camp SPCO adult music camp and ongoing partnerships with Minnesota Public Radio and Twin Cities Public Television, the SPCO is driven by the desire to deepen and widen its footprint within the local community.

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra will receive $750,000 over four years to transition from a traditional marketing model to a grassroots design to attract new audience members. Through several key grassroots marketing components, including direct face to face sales, word-of-mouth marketing and the use of affinity group channels and social networking, the SPCO will work to broaden its reach by attracting inclined, but currently non-participating adults, with special attention to the growing 20-39 year old age demographic.