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The Arts Partnership to Break Ground on New Ordway Concert Hall, 6/19

The Arts Partnership (Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Minnesota Opera, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and The Schubert Club) will break ground on the new Concert Hall at the Ordway on June 19, 2013 at 10:30am. The Concert Hall will replace the existing 306-seat McKnight Theatre. The groundbreaking is the culmination of a dream that began in 2011. Hard demolition of the McKnight Theatre will begin in July.

Preparations for the construction of the new 1,100-seat Concert Hall at the Ordway began in March. Construction began on a three story production wing. This facility will provide dressing rooms, work rooms and offices to support both the Music Theater and the new Concert Hall. On March 18, construction fencing was put up around the footprint of the site and the construction office trailer was installed. On Fifth Street, the lane adjacent to the Ordway is part of the construction site and is closed to traffic.

"We are delighted and excited to support the addition of the Concert Hall, said John Ordway, nephew of Sally Ordway Irvine. ""I think my aunt would be just as delighted as we are. Her vision was to provide a place, as she said 'a place for lots of music. . . no, lots of everything. . . and for everybody!' and the new concert hall will help fulfill that dream."

"What is so unusual about this project is that no single organization is in charge," according to Campaign Executive Chair Lucy Jones. "It is a true partnership on the building and endowment, yet each organization retains its autonomy. The big winner is the community, as its needs are placed above any one organization's needs. We've been told this unique structure is a national model for success in changing times."

According to Ordway President and CEO Patricia Mitchell, "The project will solve long-standing challenges for the Arts Partnership organizations, while benefitting the entire community. We are thrilled to see the Concert Hall project get underway."

The $79 million project is the result of several years of community engagement to create a new model for operations at the Ordway. The design, created by HGA Architects, is intended to be both seamless in its relationship to the original building and dramatically new in the experience it offers. Tim Carl, lead architect for the project, said the original Ben Thompson design created an excellent venue for performance and beauty. Carl added, "The design of the expansion has tremendous respect for both of these characteristics. The new Concert Hall will have a physical and acoustical intimacy that will provide a visceral and direct connection between the audience and the artists on stage. Warm materials articulate and shape a beautiful hall with an acoustic environment that will envelop the listener with warmth and resonance." The Ordway's existing lobby windows frame views of Rice Park and the city. The expanded lobby will extend those expansive views to include Fifth Street and the Cathedral of Saint Paul to the west.

According to Patricia Mitchell, Ordway president and CEO, "Scheduling the use of the Ordway is complicated, and it historically has been a difficult task to balance the needs of its four main users. The problem of access can be considered a sign of success, as there is more quality programming for the community than there is time in the Ordway. The new Concert Hall is a permanent solution to the scheduling challenge - benefitting all of the Arts Partnership organizations, but most importantly, the broader community." On May 21, 2013, there was the third of a series of meetings with area arts organizations interested in performing in the new Concert Hall.

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra will make its downtown Saint Paul home in the new Concert Hall. The Orchestra's move will increase the number of open dates in the larger Music Theater and allow the other Arts Partnership organizations to capitalize on availability in that space. Minnesota Opera will be able to extend its standard rehearsal and performance time in the Music Theater. The Schubert Club will be able to expand its offerings and have greater flexibility with dates. The Concert Hall will make new programming initiatives possible for the Ordway. Greater availability in the Music Theater will allow for the enhancement and growth of the Ordway's world music, dance, theater and self-produced programming.

The campaign has a $32 million endowment fund goal within the $79 million campaign. This critical component of the project will ensure affordable access to the Ordway for the Arts Partnership organizations throughout the long term. As of June 1, 2013, nearly $65 million has been raised towards the campaign goal.

The addition of the Concert Hall will expand the number of available seats across the Ordway's two halls, allowing for more visitors to the Ordway and to downtown Saint Paul. It is estimated that attendance at the Ordway could increase by more than 130,000 people annually, resulting in an additional $6.1 million of increased economic activity each year. An additional 30,000 children will be able to participate in expanded Ordway programs through subsidized busing and ticket programs each year. Finally, it is estimated that over 735 construction jobs will be created through this project.

In August 2005, at the behest of Bob Senkler, CEO of Securian Financial, and Carleen Rhodes, president of the Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, the Ordway and its resident arts organizations, along with an unprecedented collection of corporate leaders, philanthropists, and community volunteers, formed a task force dedicated to addressing the long-standing financial and operational challenges faced by the Ordway and its resident arts organizations. Their credo was "solve, don't study" as past attempts to address these issues fell short of implementing a solution. Governed by a Board of Directors composed of the board chairs and CEOs of each organization, plus an additional Ordway representative, the goals of the Partnership are to establish and manage the calendar for the Arts Partners' use of the Ordway, establish procedures for managing rent and operating costs associated with the Arts Partners' use of the Ordway and complete necessary fundraising for collaborative activity of the Partnership, including the current Arts Partnership campaign.

The Ordway is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading nonprofit performing arts centers and Saint Paul's most elegant and inviting performance space. In 2012, it was ranked 95th in the world for ticket sales (Pollstar-Dec., 2012). The Ordway attracts diverse audiences with an array of productions showcasing the finest in American musical theater, world music, dance, and vocal performance. Education and community engagement are integral to the Ordway's mission, with major initiatives including the annual Flint Hills International Children's Festival and Ordway Education programs that serve more than 50,000 students annually. The Ordway also serves as authorizer for the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, a professionally guided academic and artistic environment that trains aspiring pre-professional performing artists. Together with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera and The Schubert Club, the Ordway is a member of the Arts Partnership and serves as the principal venue for their performances.

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts is located at 345 Washington Street, Saint Paul, MN. Ticket Office: 651.224.4222 or

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