Something In the Water in Minneapolis

In the course of writing my entry two days ago, I noted that the Theatre Communications Group had hired Teresa Eyring as the new executive director just before Christmas. Teresa was most recently the managing director at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis and will take up her new role in March.

Given that TCG’s previous executive director, Ben Cameron, had worked as a director of Target Stores arts philanthropy efforts, also in Minneapolis, you have to wonder if there is something about that city that makes it a finishing school for executive directors of national arts organizations.

Well, you don’t have to wonder, but it is fun to do so. In light of the new gorgeous facility the Guthrie Theatre just completed, there definitely is something intriguing going on with the arts in the Twin Cities areas.

I kept poking around the TCG website looking for interesting tidbits as I am wont to do. I found one survey about the benefits (health, dental, life, retirement, vacation) theatres give to their employees. Not surprisingly the people working for organizations with budgets of $10 million were better off than those with less than $500,000.

The report provides a reference if you want to cross reference what you might get from your job with the trends in the same budget group. It also mentions some of the non-traditional benefits some places give that might be adoptable to make life more pleasant at your place (Subsidized Yoga, etc).

The other thing on the TCG site that caught my eye was a link to the United States Artists, a joint venture of Ford, Rockefeller, Prudential, and Rasmuson Foundations. The organization was formed from the realization that while support for arts organizations waxes and wanes with the times, the individual artist is never funded very well. Every year they plan to give $50,000 to 50 artists based on the idea that “$50,000 is a common entry-level salary for art college faculty in America today. Hopefully, this funding will enable some artists to pursue their art full time.”

If you are thinking “Oooo, how can I get one of those,” the only way is to work hard at being good at what you do. USA solicits nominations from a group of people whose identities remain secret. Not even the nominators know who else is nominating. The $20 million from the aforementioned foundations is just seed money to start the program. With additional fundraising, they hope to increase the number of awards per year.

Check out the 2006 Fellows awarded last month.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


1 thought on “Something In the Water in Minneapolis”

  1. Enjoyed your commentary on Minneapolis, a city which I more than just a little familiar. Including the Guthrie, Minneapolis and St. Paul ranked second per capita in the overall number of theatre seats in the United States (hey, you have to do something when it’s below zero, right?) – second only to NYC.

    Additionally, it has a vital, thriving arts scene that extends beyond theatre and its exceptional Fringe Festival to renowned art museums (Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Weisman Art Museum, among many others) and galleries.

    Minnesotans have long been known for their progressive commitment to the arts – perhaps it’s in the water in one of those 10,000+ lakes or the Mississippi River.



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